Rights and responsibilities under the food and grocery code

  • A grocery retailer or wholesaler can agree to be bound by the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct by giving written notice to the ACCC.
  • Once a retailer or wholesaler has signed up, they must follow the rules of the code.

What the ACCC does:

  • We enforce the food and grocery code, including undertaking compliance checks.
  • We provide guidance material for industry participants about code obligations.

What the ACCC can’t do:

  • We don’t resolve disputes.
  • We don’t provide legal advice.
  • We don’t investigate individual supplier complaints about a retailer or wholesaler.

Sign up to the code by giving written notice

A grocery retailer or wholesaler can agree to be bound by the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct by giving written notice to the ACCC.

The written notice should be signed by an able officer, such as a director or company secretary.

If multiple companies from a group of companies wants to sign up to the code, each company must provide written notice that it agrees to be bound by the code.

Give the ACCC written notice by email or post.

By email to:
foodandgrocerycode@accc.gov.au

Post a copy to:
David Salisbury, General Manager, Small Business and Agriculture
GPO Box 3131, Canberra, ACT 2601

The retailer or wholesaler will be bound on the date that the ACCC receives the written notice.

Follow the rules of the code after signing up

Once a retailer or wholesaler has signed up, they are bound by the code. They must make sure that they follow the rules of the code within the time specified by the code.

Act in good faith under the code

The food and grocery code says that retailers and wholesalers must always act in good faith towards suppliers.

Find out more about the good faith responsibility, and what action can be taken if a retailer or wholesaler is not acting in good faith.

Retailers and wholesalers need a Code Arbiter and a dispute resolution process

Within 2 months of being bound by the code, the retailer or wholesaler needs to appoint a Code Arbiter.

After 2 months or once a Code Arbiter is appointed, whichever occurs first, Part 5 of the code relating to dispute resolution applies.

Retailers and wholesalers must have an internal dispute resolution process in place so a supplier can raise a complaint during this transitional period. Find out more about resolving disputes under the code.

Grocery supply agreements need to follow the code

A grocery supply agreement is an agreement between a supplier and a retailer or wholesaler for the supply of groceries to a supermarket business.

Any grocery supply agreement entered into after a retailer or wholesaler agree to be bound by the code must follow the code.

For grocery supply agreements that were entered into before a retailer or wholesaler agreed to be bound by the code:

  • the good faith obligations apply as soon as the retailer or wholesaler become bound by the code
  • for other code obligations (in Parts 2, 3 and 6 of the code) the retailer or wholesaler has 12 months to amend their grocery supply agreements to comply. After this time, these obligations automatically apply.

Find out about other obligations and protections under the food and grocery code.

The ACCC is responsible for enforcing 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.

We also have powers to:

  • request retailers and wholesalers to provide information that must be kept, generated or published under the code
  • undertake compliance checks.

The ACCC can’t provide legal advice on the code and doesn’t act on behalf of individual suppliers to resolve a dispute with a retailer or wholesaler.

Next steps if a retailer or wholesaler is not doing something they should

Contact the business

If you are a supplier and a problem occurs, your first step is to contact the retailer or wholesaler to explain the issue.

If the business doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take.

Find out more about your options for resolving a dispute.

Report a problem to the ACCC

You can also report a problem to the ACCC. We use these reports to identify issues that need investigation.

Make a report to the ACCC

See also

Obligations and protections under the code

Grocery supply agreements under the code

Competition and Consumer (Industry Codes—Food and Grocery) Regulation 2015

Tags

Topics