September 9th 2000

  Buy Issue 2591

Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: A way out of the debt trap

COVER STORY: Inside the World Economic Forum

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Petrol prices puncture GST optimism

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Radical groups organised for Forum protests

Straws in the Wind

LABOR PARTY: New book, old view of ALP



DOCUMENTATION: “I’ve always felt like an IVF guinea pig”

MODERN ART: “Anything goes”: gallery

Milk: will wheat be next?

EAST TIMOR: Rebuilding East Timor

'Kursk' disaster timely reminder to next US President

As the World Turns

LITERATURE: The magic of Harry Potter

BOOKS: The triumph of spin over substance

Books promotion page

Milk: will wheat be next?

by News Weekly

News Weekly, September 9, 2000
No sooner was the dairy industry deregulated than Woolworths slashed the price of milk in a grab for market share, forcing Franklins and Coles-Myers to follow suit. The big losers are going to be dairy farmers. As Peter Austin commented in The Land, “It was patently obvious total deregulation of the dairy industry ... could result in only one thing: the transfer of market power from the farmers (who need it), to the processors and supermarkets (who don't).

“Woolworths chief executive, Roger Corbett, even went so far as to kid us on national TV that farmers would actually benefit form Woolies’ lower prices, as cheaper milk resulted in increased sales ... Unless, we're all about to follow Cleopatra's example and start bathing in the stuff, rates of consumption will remain a factor of dietary habit not price ... There is a certain irony that Woolworths’ market price cutting move came the very week after a round of public hearings in the National Competition Policy review of the Wheat Marketing Act, which will recommend on the future of the Australian Wheat Board's single desk for export wheat.

“If all milk were marketed by (say) a single, grower-owned co-operative (or company), Woolworths wouldn’t have been able to pull the stunt it did. That was only possible because Woolies (according to reports) was able to play the three processing giants off against each other, much as the Japanese do when buying coal or iron ore. Wheat would be similarly vulnerable in a deregulated market.”

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