Peak industry group for the grocery sector, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed an announcement from the minister for small business, Bruce Billson, on the government’s review of competition law.
The ‘root and branch’ review panel will be chaired by Professor Ian Harper, and comprising Peter Anderson, Su McCluskey and Michael O’Bryan SC, all of which have extensive industry experience and expertise.
The AFGC’s CEO, Gary Dawson said that the competition review represented one of the most significant reviews in a generation in terms of its potential impact of the Australian food and grocery sector.
“The food and grocery sector is an extremely competitive, dynamic and critical sector… It is also a sector where issues have arisen in relation to market power imbalance, vertical integration and excessive regulation, all of which are within the ambit of the ‘root and branch’ review," said Dawson.
“Competition policy remains a crucial element of the regulatory setting across the supply chain and greatly impacts decisions on investment and employment that shape the direction of food and grocery manufacturing sector.”
Dawson says that the Food and Grocery Industry Code of Conduct – which was developed and agreed to by the AFGC, Coles and Woolworths late last year – is consistent with the direction of the ‘root and branch’ review.
“(The code) was aimed at improving the operation of our competitive market by increasing transparency and certainty for supermarket suppliers, and explicitly prohibiting a number of anti-competitive behaviours,” said Dawson.
“The Code… will be progressed in tandem through the government’s regulatory review process this year with a view to it being tabled as a prescribed code under the Competition and Consumer Act.
“The Food and Grocery Code establishes a clear set of principles relating to key aspects of trading relationships between retailers and suppliers and will provide greater certainty and clarity about dealings in the industry without adding complexity or cost in a fast moving consumer goods sector.
“We look forward to seeing both the industry code of conduct and the outcomes of the competition law review work together to strengthen the food and grocery sector.”