The Australian groceries duopoly and obesity

I was back in Europe visiting friends and family last month.Had a great time and finally got a well-needed break.Ever since the introduction of the Euro in 2002 my father has been whinging about the prices of living expenses, and how the previous prices in D-mark were essentially just swapped for Euro, thereby making everything almost twice as expensive overnight.While that probably isn’t true for every area, it certainly seems to apply to restaurants, some pubs, and some groceries.
Still, the first thing I realized when I went shopping in my dad’s german small town supermarket was the, compared to Australia, really low groceries prices.Mars bar for a dollar ? I’ll take that thank you, shower gel 2 dollars, I have 2 thanks very much !
The other difference you notice walking through any german(and european) town is the variety of supermarkets and grocery stores.Edeka, Rewe, Aldi, Kodi, Tengelmann, you name it.
In Australia, there’s Coles and Woolworth/Safeway.That’s it.For fresh food anyway.There’s a handful of Aldis now, but they are not great with fruit or veg.
Accordingly, the prices for fresh food over here are exorbitant.There was a TV program a few years ago that showed that you can save money by flying 4000km over the Pacific and do your monthly grocery shopping in New Zealand.

Berries in your muesli ? That’ll be 6 dollars for a tiny tub, thanks ! A red capsicum in the stirfry ? 2 bucks a piece, Avocado in your salad, again, 2 bucks a pop.While at the same time rubbish like potato chips or nutriciously useless white bread are comparably cheap.

Obesity is a growing problem in Australia, with huge medical and hence economical consequences.In 2003, 26.7% of australian children were classified as overweight and 8% as obese.
Sedentary lifestyle, reduction in manual labor and busy lifestyles that make exercise hard to organise are some of the reasons given, but the biggie is the rise in costs of healthy eating.Excess weight is also more common among people in lower socioeconomic categories and socially disadvantaged groups, particularly among women.
Australian children have compared to their counterparts in the US or UK, still comparably plenty of exercise in school and socially, so the reason that we are just as bad with our obesity statistics to me shows that there is something australia-specific going on here.

While education, increased exercise and public health prevention measures are all needed, I feel that it’s a job for politics, to break open the australian food market, and finally allow more competition, so that we can make healthier eating affordable for more people.I am lucky enough to be able to afford berries in my muesli, but the mum-of-3 in Pakenham Upper can’t.
Politics need to step in here, so that Mackers down the road is no longer cheaper then healthy options, and so supermarkets are motivated to make healthy foods cheaper than crap foods.

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