Supermarket giant Woolworths is arguing that Aldi should sign the grocery code of conduct, claiming its private label products may infringe on the intellectual property of other leading brands.
Last month, Woolworths, Coles and the Australian Food and Grocery Council signed the voluntary code, which codifies the relationship between retailers and suppliers and outlines that suppliers must respect intellectual property rights including brand names, packaging and advertising.
According to the AFR, Tjeerd Jegen, Woolworths’ managing director of supermarkets, said some of Aldi’s private label brands are very similar to that of other national brands, using Bundaberg ginger beer, General Mills’ Old El Paso and Kellogg’s Special K as examples.
"One of our major competitors has 96 percent of their range that is own-brand," he said. "If you don't look carefully, you'd think it came from suppliers' brands."
Coles’ managing director Ian McLeod and Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder have voiced similar concerns.
Metcash has said it’s reluctant to sign the voluntary code because it was not involved in the negotiation process and as a wholesaler, the code is irrelevant to its business model.
While Aldi hasn’t responded on Jegen’s comments, managing director Tom Daunt has said in the past that he supports any code that “levels the playing field.”
"In order to get a level playing field, I can't understand why every retailer is not signing up to the code," Jegen said. "Everyone is asking for a level playing field and we're providing it now."