ACCC commences market study into wine grape industry

26 September 2018

The wine grape industry will be the focus of a new ACCC market study, announced today. 

The study will examine competition, contracting practices, transparency, and risk allocation issues in the wine grape supply chain.

“We are undertaking this market study after wine grape growers raised concerns about a range of competition issues and contracting practices in the industry,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said. 

“Growers have told us they carry too much of the risk in their contracts, and many say there is a lack of competition between buyers for their grapes.”

“Some growers have also told us that they receive limited pricing information and are subject to opaque quality standards imposed by winemakers, which can have a major impact on prices they receive for their grapes,” Mr Keogh said.

“We want to get to the bottom of these concerns and, if necessary, make recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the market.”

The ACCC has released an issues paper and is seeking submissions on:

  • the level of competition between purchasers of wine grapes
  • bargaining power and risk allocation across the entire supply chain, particularly in relation to growers and winemakers
  • issues around price transparency and quality assessment
  • the nature of contracts between growers and winemakers (including the timing of price notifications and payments)
  • the effect of the existing voluntary industry Code and dispute resolution processes; and
  • the use of collective bargaining by growers.

The ACCC is seeking this information through written and oral submissions in response to the Issues Paper.

The ACCC will accept submissions on a confidential or anonymous basis, acknowledging that some stakeholders may be concerned about adverse reactions from commercial partners if they speak to the ACCC. Similarly, some firms may be reluctant to provide potentially commercially sensitive data which the ACCC needs to understand how the industry operates.

“We want to hear from anyone involved in the industry from any side who has information relevant to this study. If there are those who’d prefer to remain anonymous, our teams are used to handling sensitive, confidential information and we encourage people to get in touch – whether it is on or off the record,” Mr Keogh said.

The ACCC will hold public forums in a number of wine grape growing areas to hear directly from interested stakeholders. The dates and locations of the consultation forums will be announced on the ACCC’s website soon.

The ACCC will analyse information collected from submissions and forums and will publish draft findings for further comment, likely in the first quarter of 2019 with a final report before the end of June.

The issues paper and further information on the market study is available at: Wine grape market study.

Background

In July and August 2018 the ACCC invited wine grape growers across Australia to provide feedback about competition issues in their industry through an online survey.

The survey posed a range of questions to allow grape growers to share their experience. This helped the ACCC to learn how various industry players do business, and to identify any issues that require particular attention. A summary of survey results is available at: Wine grape market study.

Competition and consumer issues in the agriculture sector, including a focus on analysis of the wine grape industry, are current ACCC priorities.

Release number: 
193/18
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