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Food and grocery code of conduct interim report released

The Federal government has released the interim report of the food and grocery code of conduct independent review.

In a move aimed at leveling the playing field for both families and farmers, the Federal Government has released the interim report of the independent review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct. The overarching goal is to ensure fairness across the board.

The review seeks to enhance competition within the supermarket landscape, ultimately leading to better prices for Australians.

Following extensive stakeholder engagement, the interim report recommends the Code be made mandatory, with heavy penalties for major breaches.

Currently, there are no penalties for breaches, and because the Code is voluntary, supermarkets can walk away from it at any time.

The interim report notes there is a heavy imbalance in market power between the smaller suppliers and supermarkets, which warrants a strong and effective Code.

The report recommends that the mandatory Code apply to grocery retailers and wholesalers with revenue of $5 billion or more per annum, which would capture the current signatories – Aldi, Coles, Woolworths, and Metcash.

It found that smaller suppliers’ fear of retribution is a major obstacle to the use of the Code and makes recommendations to strengthen protections for complaints including new channels for making informal complaints and access to independent dispute resolution.

The Interim Report of the independent review led by Dr Craig Emerson will be out for consultation until 30 April 2024.

Interested stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission on the Treasury website.

This review is part of a broader competition reform agenda led by the Federal Government. It aligns with efforts such as the ACCC inquiry into supermarket prices and increased funding for supermarket price monitoring by CHOICE.

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