Why Bunnings should be included in the supermarket debate

While the spotlight has been squarely on supermarkets lately, with no less than six inquiries looking into their pricing practices and conduct with suppliers and farmers, there’s a farm sector that says it’s going under the radar.

Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) is the national peak body representing commercial growers of plants (known as nursery products) across Australia. This sector employs over 25,000 people.

If you have ever bought a plant for your garden or vegetable patch at Bunnings, it is highly likely it was grown by someone in this sector.

Horizontal photo of groups of tropical plants in pots for sale in a Garden Centre in north coast NSW on a sunny day

GIA estimates Bunnings has a 70% share of the plant retail market in Australia, which is higher than the combined 60% Coles and Woolworths share in the grocery market.

At the centre of all the arguments driving the debate and inquiries, is how these huge market shares gives these companies the market power to determine prices, how much produce is grown, and what the trading terms are.

Chief Executive Officer, Joanna Cave says Bunnings should be put under the same scrutiny as the supermarkets and included in The Food & Grocery Code of Conduct because:

  • Plants are already covered by the Code and Bunnings sells more plants than anyone else in Australia.
  • Bunnings is an unregulated monopoly in this space.
  • Bunnings sells a range of goods from household cleaners to pet food – just like a supermarket.
Joanna Cave – CEO Greenlife

“More than two thirds of growers are dissatisfied with their trading arrangements with Bunnings,” Jo said.

“A third of growers say the retail giant pressures them to accept a price that’s less than fair,
and 20% say they sell to Bunnings at a loss.

“A third of growers say they fear losing business if they ask for a price increase.”

The greenlife sector has highlighted how “multiple” nurseries have closed down because of unfair practices.

GIA is particularly advocating for big box retailers like Bunnings to be included in the Supermarket Code being reviewed by Dr Craig Emerson. A final report will be handed to the Australian Government by June 30, although an interim report is expected to be released for feedback prior to this.

Stacey Davidson

Add comment

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Register for updates

Subscribe to access free weekly recipes, news and lifestyle content – fresh from Australia’s farmers.