The head of Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has indicated that its grocery inquiry has revealed structural impediments bearing on competition.

“The grocery inquiry has revealed to us some interesting structural impediments, starting at the farm gate, moving right through to the checkout counter,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said in a speech in Sydney, adding that the information gathered during the inquiry would be useful for advising the Government.

“That information … will give us the capacity to provide the federal government advice and recommendations on the steps they might take,” Samuel said.

The inquiry began in April and its findings are scheduled to be handed to the Government by 31 July. The inquiry looked at the grocery industry and the nature of competition at the supply, wholesale and retail levels. “The public hearings enabled us to put some people under the pump to find out just what was going on,” Samuel added.

The ACCC inquiry precipitated a war of words between the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia (NARGA), which represents independent retailers, and Australia’s two dominant food retailers, Woolworths and Coles, regarding the disputed market shares of the market leaders and the extent of fair competition in the Australian food retail sector.