The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted interim authorisation* for 39 wine grape growers in the Alpine Valleys and King Valley region of north east Victoria, to appoint a common agent, North East Valleys Wine Group, to negotiate wine grape supply contracts.

Interim authorisation allows NEV to negotiate wine grape supply contracts on behalf of the growers in respect of the current 2007/2008 wine grape harvest.

"The ACCC considers that the possible anti-competitive effect of the arrangement is limited by the voluntary nature of the arrangement, the comparative size of the bargaining group and competition from wine grape growers outside of the group," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.

"Allowing the wine grape growers to collectively sell wine grapes does not reduce the ability of growers to negotiate individual agreements with buyers outside of the collective arrangement."

The ACCC grant of interim authorisation does not extend to the growers exchanging information regarding the terms and conditions of supply contracts each grower enters into individually with buyers outside of the collective arrangements.

"The granting of interim authorisation in no way binds the ACCC in its consideration of the substantive application for authorisation. The ACCC will continue to consult with interested parties in its consideration of the application."

The ACCC expects to issue a draft determination in relation to the applications shortly. More information regarding the applications and granting of interim authorisation, will be available by following the Public Registers and Authorisations Register links on the ACCC's website.