Coles denies unhealthy food link: AUS
By FoodWeek Online
Coles denies its hold on supermarkets is dooming the ability of Australians to eat healthier food.
The supermarket giant’s assertion comes after a researcher has blamed insufficient competition for hampering consumer access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
John Wardle, from the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, says the major grocers, Coles and Woolworths, now enjoy a duopoly within the Australian market that is unrivalled in the world.
“Unless competition is improved, the numerous public health programs aimed at increasing consumption of nutritious foods are doomed from the start,” he said.
Coles spokesman Jim Cooper said the report drew a long bow and was light on factual detail.
“Nobody is forced to shop in our stores, but we’d like to think customers do because we’re meeting their needs,” he said in a statement.
Wardle says Coles and Woolworths control 80 per cent of the Australian grocery market, a figure the federal government says is closer to 60 per cent.
Its data shows that Coles operates 750 stores across Australia, compared with 800 run by rival Woolworths.
Coles argues it has about 700 stores among Australia’s 20,000 food retail outlets.
Cooper said Coles had 20,000 product lines, which included a “huge range” of fresh fruit and vegetables.