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Pouring in: Fuel industry profits are rising. Picture: The West Australian

Fuel industry profits have climbed to their highest in a decade on the back of high-priced premium unleaded petrol, milk and chocolate.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report into petrol prices across the nation over the past year also found prices actually fell during that time.

The ACCC found unleaded prices averaged 141.3� a litre through 2012-13, down 1.5� on the previous year.

The unleaded petrol price ranged between 128� in July last year, when the Australian dollar was buying $US1.02, to an average of 151� earlier this year.

The ACCC said the strong Australian dollar had largely protected motorists from even higher prices.

If the dollar had been about its long-term average of US61¢, retail prices would have soared to an eye-watering $2.13.

While petrol prices remain elevated, the commission found profits were also growing.

Retail profits hit a record $534.9 million last year, a rise of almost 19 per cent in real terms. Since 2008-09, profits have grown 114 per cent in inflation-adjusted terms.

Some profits are being driven by high-priced "premium" petrol.

So good is the margin on premium petrol, profits on its sales matched those of regular unleaded despite vastly lower sale volumes.

But it's not just petrol that is helping fuel companies. Convenience shops attached to petrol outlets are also boosting bottom lines.

The stores made about $80 million in profits in 2006-07. Last year profits reached $205 million.

The ACCC found the petrol price cycle was getting longer on the east coast, making it harder for motorists to fill up when petrol was at its cheapest.

In Perth, the cycle was consistent at seven days, with Wednesday the cheapest. The ACCC suggested FuelWatch helped Perth motorists.

"WA is the only State or Territory to have fuel price regulations that require retail sites to keep their prices constant over a 24-hour period," it said.