ACCC defends Food and Grocery Code
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims has come out in defence of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct (the Grocery Code of Conduct) despite accusing some retailers as not getting off to a great start in implementing the Grocery Code of Conduct.
Speaking at the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) Industry Leaders Forum in Canberra yesterday, Sims said the ACCC has been was confident the Grocery Code of Conduct can achieve its objectives despite Woolworths and Aldi already accused of breaches.
“We have written to these retailers expressing our concerns. This action, which we made public, as some suppliers urged us to do, was not a signal that the Code faces great difficulties; it was, instead, a signal that we will do what we can to ensure the Code succeeds,” said Sims as part of his speech.
“Ensuring suppliers are aware of their rights is crucial to the success of the Code. Our public action was designed to help with this,” Sims stated.
The Grocery Code was introduced in March 2015 with Woolworths, Aldi, Coles and small Sydney retailer About Life signing on. In September 2015, the ACCC publically announced it was investigating, particularly Woolworths and Aldi, accusing them of presenting Grocery Supply Agreements (GSAs) in a manner that potentially made them appear non-negotiable.
At the time the investigation was announced, both Woolworths and Aldi defended the GSA’s.
Woolworths said it was a strong supporter of the Code and that the ACCC had recently contacted them regarding wording in a letter to suppliers which has since been amended. The supermarket further stated that it was only contacted about additional concerns hours before the media were notified and were disappointed its previous cooperation was not recognised.
Aldi said that it had always supported a s strong and sustainable industry for all involved and that it would respond to the ACCC’s accusations in due course.
Sims yesterday said although it was unfortunate some retailers have not got off to a great start in implementing the Grocery Code of Conduct, he was happy with the AFGC’s approach to the Code. He highlighted the organisation’s work in providing fact sheets and training on the Grocery Code of Conduct to suppliers.