The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reminding grocery suppliers about new protections they have under the Food & Grocery Code of Conduct, which has rules about grocery supply agreements, payments, termination of agreements, dispute resolution and a range of other matters.
The voluntary code complements existing protections under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, including the unconscionable conduct provisions.
“The code addresses unfair practices by grocery retailers and wholesalers in their dealings with suppliers. For example, retailers and wholesalers must deal with suppliers in good faith during the bargaining stages of establishing grocery supply agreements, during the term of the agreement, and in dealing with any disputes,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“Under the code, retailers are required to offer suppliers code-compliant agreements – whether the agreements are new, or variations to existing ones. Suppliers should not feel compelled to sign these agreements and should seek advice before signing them.”
The ACCC is responsible for enforcing the code and has developed guidance material, which is available on the ACCC website. The ACCC website also contains a list of current signatories.
“Suppliers also have additional protections covering supplier funded promotions, labelling requirements, supply chain changes, product ranging and shelf space allocation,” Dr Schaper said.
“The aim of the code is to redress the imbalance in bargaining power that can exist between suppliers and large grocery retailers and wholesalers by prohibiting certain types of unfair conduct.”
Suppliers who think a retailer or wholesaler has breached the code should contact the ACCC for a confidential discussion.
To date Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Sydney-based retailer About Life have signed up to the code. Businesses that supply groceries to these retailers will be protected under the code.