Big Queensland meat supplier launches legal action against Coles
The major Queensland beef producer Australian Country Choice has filed a Queensland Supreme Court action against its sole customer, Coles Supermarkets.
In a statement of claim over breach of commercial contract, the producer, Australian Country Choice (ACC) claims that Coles has sold and continues to sell beef into international markets, breaching ACC’s external sales contract.
“Coles has repeatedly breached its obligations, failed to act in good faith and taken steps that threaten the very core of our business,” ACC Managing Director David Foote said.
ACC is Coles’ biggest beef supplier, providing over 50 per cent of the supermarket’s beef products.
“It will be business as usual,” Foote said, when addressing what the contractual dispute means for Coles and ACC’s northern supply chain network of cattle suppliers.
Foote said ACC had no choice but to commence legal action after exhaustive negotiation failed to resolve differences.
To date, Australian Food News has been unsuccessful in reaching Coles Supermarkets for comment on this matter.
According to lodged court documents, ACC is claiming it alone has rights to export excess meat not sold in Australian Coles stores, including edible meat and offal.
The two parties are allegedly disputing the phrase “edible meat offal” used in a contract with ACC believing it means they have the exclusive rights to export both edible meat an offal. Coles allegedly believes it means ACC has the rights export offal whilst Coles can export other meat.
Coles has become a large exporter
ACC moved into meat export in 2001, establishing a range of large food service and retail customers across Asia.
In describing ACC’s relationship with Coles, Foote said, “for most of our 40-year partnership, the relationship has been strong and mutually beneficial.”
Coles launched its own trading group over 12 months ago, with a focus on exporting wine and other high-end consumables to markets such as China and Hong Kong.
More recently, Coles advertised for a meat sales executive to join its trading group, to explore ‘complementary products’.