In a formal hearing with the full panel of Competition Commissioners as part of the ongoing inquiry into the grocery market, the ACS identified the buying power of the big four supermarket groups as the root cause of the uneven playing field in the grocery market.
ACS public affairs director James Lowman told the inquiry: "This investigation must uncover the differentials between the buying prices achieved by the big four and those paid by convenience retailers and wholesalers."
Lowman argued that this buying power was the major contributing factor to key problems in the market, most notably predatory price flexing and local price manipulation, reduced consumer choice of products and retail fascias, and abuse of the planning system.
"We have established a constructive relationship with the Commission, and we received a fair hearing from the panel," continued Lowman. "What matters now is that the Commission uses its powers to get information on relative buying prices. Armed with this data, the Commission can begin to address the central issues of this inquiry."
The ACS delegation came a week after a high-level party from the Federation of Wholesale Distributors made its case to the Commission.
As part of this representation, the Commission visited a Bestway cash and carry depot and a Londis distribution centre.
The inquiry is set to turn its attention to the big four multiples this month.