Federal Government accepts all recommendations for Food and Grocery Code of Conduct

The Federal Government is set to strengthen the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct after accepting all recommendations of a recent independent review into the Code.

The review was part of a wide‑ranging cost‑of‑living crackdown on anti‑competitive behaviour in the food and grocery sector.

“This is about getting a fair go for families and a fair go for farmers,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Agriculture Minister Senator Murray Watt and Competition Assistant Minister Andrew Leigh in a joint statement.

“Our efforts will help to ensure our supermarkets are as competitive as they can be so Australians get the best prices possible.

“We’re cracking down on anti‑competitive behaviour in the supermarkets sector so people get fairer prices at the checkout.

“We commissioned Dr Craig Emerson to review the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct to ensure it’s protecting suppliers and encouraging a competitive grocery sector that delivers a fair deal for Australians.”

The Review found that the current voluntary Code is failing to address the imbalance of bargaining power between supermarkets and their suppliers, including farmers.

Suppliers fear retribution from supermarkets if they raise concerns or exercise their rights under the Code.

Following extensive stakeholder engagement, the Review’s recommendations to be implemented in full by the Government include:

  • Making the Code mandatory for all supermarkets with an annual Australian revenue of greater than $5 billion
  • Strengthening formal and informal dispute‑resolution arrangements
  • Introducing penalties for the more harmful breaches of the Code with the maximum penalty the greatest of $10 million, three times the benefit gained from the contravening conduct or 10 per cent of turnover in the preceding 12 months.
  • Creating an anonymous supplier and whistle‑blower complaints mechanism within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Placing greater emphasis on addressing fear of retribution
  • Improving outcomes for suppliers of fresh produce

Implementing these recommendations will require changes to regulations and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which the Government will prioritise.

A copy of the final report and Government response is available on the Treasury website.

“We thank Craig Emerson for his efforts in reviewing the Food and Grocery Code and for his recommendations which the government will adopt in full,” said Chalmers.

“This Review is an important part of the Federal Government’s broad competition reform agenda, which includes an ACCC inquiry into supermarket prices, funding for CHOICE to conduct quarterly price monitoring reports (the first of which was released on Thursday), and progressing legislation to implement the biggest change to our merger reform system in almost 50 years.

“Our Budget and our economic plan is all about easing the cost of living for Australians and improving competition in the supermarkets sector is an important part of that agenda.”

Meanwhile, Woolworths welcomed the announcement.

“Woolworths Group reiterates its support for the code becoming mandatory and we firmly believe healthy retailer and supplier relationships are key to the continued success of our sector, as well as serving the needs of millions of customers,” the statement read.

“We welcome the decision to retain fast and cost effective avenues for dispute resolution, for the benefit of suppliers, especially smaller ones.

“A key topic of this review is the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables and we note the specific recommendations for this sector in the final report.”


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