The Food and Grocery Code (the Code) is a voluntary code prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA). It was introduced to improve standards of business conduct in the food and grocery sector. The Code does not override the existing provisions in the CCA and the Australian Consumer Law.
The information provided on this page and related pages is of a general nature. The ACCC is not a dispute resolution body and does not provide legal advice. Individuals should obtain legal advice on the application of the Code to their circumstances.
The Code will apply to you if you supply grocery products to a retailer or wholesaler who has agreed to be bound by the Code (a signatory).
Conflicts with other codes
The Dairy Code of Conduct applies to retailers, such as supermarkets, only to the extent that they purchase milk directly from farmers. The relationship between retailers and processors may be covered by the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.
The following companies are bound by the Code:
- ALDI (retailer) (signed up on 15 June 2015)
- Coles Supermarkets Australia (retailer) (signed up on 1 July 2015)
- Woolworths Limited (retailer) (signed up on 1 July 2015)
- Metcash Food & Grocery Pty Ltd (wholesaler) (signed up on 30 September 2020).
Signing up to the Code
A retailer or wholesaler can agree to be bound by the Code by giving written notice to the ACCC stating that it agrees to be bound by the Code.
The written notice should be signed by a competent officer, such as a director or company secretary. If multiple companies from a group of companies wish to be bound by the Code, each company must provide written notice that it agrees to be bound by the Code.
How to provide notice
Written notice may be given to the ACCC by email to:
David Salisbury, General Manager, Consumer & Small Business Strategies at email@example.com.
A copy of this notice (addressed to David Salisbury, General Manager, Consumer & Small Business Strategies) should also be posted to:
GPO Box 3131
The retailer or wholesaler will be bound on the date the ACCC receives the written notice by email.
Transitioning to the Code
Once a retailer or wholesaler is bound by the Code, they must make sure that they comply with Code requirements within the time periods specified by the Code. This includes making sure that GSAs are compliant with the Code.
If you intend to sign up to the Code, you should know the following:
- you must appoint a Code Arbiter within 2 months of being bound. After 2 months or once you appoint a Code Arbiter (whichever occurs first), Part 5 of the Code (relating to dispute resolution) will apply to you. You must have an internal dispute resolution process in place through which a supplier can raise a complaint during this transitional period
- any GSA entered into after you agree to be bound by the Code must comply with the requirements of the Code
- for GSAs that you entered into before you agreed to be bound by the Code:
- the good faith obligations apply immediately when you become bound by the Code
- for other Code obligations (in parts 2, 3 and 6 of the Code) you have 12 months to amend your GSAs to comply, after which these obligations will automatically apply to you.
If you are an existing signatory, we provide information about transitioning to the amendments to the Code that commenced on 3 October 2020.
If you supply grocery products to retailers or wholesalers you do not need to sign up to the Code — the Code automatically applies to you if you are dealing with a retailer or wholesaler who is a signatory.
A ‘supplier’ is someone who is carrying on (or actively seeking to carry on) a business of supplying groceries for retail sale by another person.
Groceries include the following items:
- food, including fresh produce, meat and dairy items (other than dairy items sold for in‑store consumption)
- pet food
- non‑alcoholic drinks (other than drinks sold for in‑store consumption)
- cleaning products
- toiletries, perfumes and cosmetics
- household goods, electrical appliances and kitchenware
- ‘do‑it‑yourself’ products
- books, newspapers, magazines and greeting cards
- CDs, DVDs, videos and audio tapes
- plants, flowers and gardening equipment
- tobacco and tobacco products.
A grocery supply agreement (GSA) is an agreement between a supplier and a retailer or wholesaler for the supply of groceries to (or for the purposes of) a supermarket business.
A GSA is not just the principal agreement and documents made under that agreement — it includes any contracts or agreements between a retailer or wholesaler and a supplier that relate to the supply of groceries. These other documents may include:
- freight agreements
- promotion agreements
- supplier portal documents
- purchase orders.
A GSA must be in writing.
Tips for suppliers
It is good practice for suppliers to keep written records of the conversations they have with retailers and wholesalers when negotiating a GSA. When you do come to an agreement, get confirmation of what was agreed in writing.
Information that should be in your grocery supply agreement
A GSA must set out:
- any delivery requirements
- the circumstances in which the retailer or wholesaler can reject groceries
- the payment period, and circumstances in which payment may be withheld or delayed
- the term of the agreement (if the agreement is intended to operate for a limited time)
- any quantity and quality requirements
- the circumstances (if any) in which the agreement may be terminated.
The Code limits retailers’ or wholesalers’ ability to vary a GSA.
Some of the terms used in the Code have particular definitions. For example, the terms ‘supplier’ and ‘grocery supply agreement’, which are described above, both have specific meanings given by the Code.
We have provided a glossary of some of the key terms used in the Code that are defined in the Code.
The ACCC is responsible for enforcing the Code. Decisions about which matters to pursue are made in line with the ACCC’s Compliance and Enforcement policy.
The ACCC also has powers to require retailers and wholesalers to provide information they are required to keep, generate or publish under the Code and to undertake compliance checks.
The ACCC cannot provide legal advice on the Code and does not act on behalf of individual suppliers to resolve a dispute with a retailer or wholesaler.
If you think a retailer or wholesaler has breached the code, you can report this to the ACCC.