Next month, the BBC plans a new series called Ripoff Britain. There’s nothing original about the name, or indeed presenters Gloria Hunniford, Jenny Bond and Angela Rippon. And you won’t be surprised to hear supermarkets feature quite extensively, too.

Expect lots of well-trodden examples. Pack size changes. Positioning high-margin items at eye level. Multiple-owned c-stores that charge a premium over their sister supermarkets. It’s Pulitzer winning stuff. Not.

What you almost certainly won’t find, however, is any mention of the most clear-cut example of profiteering in the grocery sector since the days of Al Capone.

Since July 2008, The Grocer has been flagging up apparent discrepancies, in a number of food and drink categories, between falling wholesale prices and increasing retail prices. We scratched our heads as the media all but ignored this. Even when the European Commission launched an investigation into price anomalies in the European dairy sector, at the end of July, a Press Association write-up got nil pickup. Nil.

This week, the European Commission went further. As the Tories appeared to rule out the possibility of an ombudsman, the EC was promising an action plan to rectify the situation. An EC-funded price comparison site has even been mooted.

While John ‘Fingers’ Fingleton at the OFT was launching guerrilla-style swoops on supermarkets and leading fmcgs over alleged price-fixing, could it be that a far bigger story was sitting under his nose? Not that the supermarkets should automatically be fingered, it must be stressed (though if the media do pick up on this story, they are certain to do so). While farmgate and retail prices are clear and obvious, it may be the murky middle ground that needs investigating.

Sounds tailor-made for you, Fingers.

Brussels to act on price anomalies (31/10/09)
Tories looking to avoid new ombudsman (31/10/09)