Coles deal a rise in business for Toowoomba bakery

A multi-million dollar agreement between supermarket giant Coles and Homestyle Bake will see the Toowoomba bakery showcase their products on a national stage.

According to The Chronicle, the family-owned and operated bakery has signed a deal to beef up its baked goods supplies to the supermarket chain.

The business currently supplies about 20,000 loaves a week to 124 Coles stores in south-east Queensland.

"The meeting was essentially about further growth and focusing on increasing our volume to Coles," Homestyle Bake director, Brett Pascoe, told The Chronicle.

Pascoe said the deal with Coles is an opportunity for the business to grow further, having already expanded its staff from 11 when the company was established in 989 to more than 200 today.

"The agreement will allow us to grow even more.

"It will really allow us to put back even more into the community in which we operate from," he said.

Earlier this year, Coles conducted an extensive research program of its customers and found they wanted access to more local products from local suppliers and producers.

While the supermarkets' bolstered alliance with Homestyle Bake is in-line with this sentiment, just last week legal action was launched against it by the ACCC for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.

It's reported Coles bread marketed as ‘Baked Today, Sold Today’ and/or ‘Freshly Baked In-Store’, has actually been partially baked and frozen off-site – in places as far away as Europe and Ireland – transported to Coles stores and then ‘finished’ in-store.

In a statement issued by Coles, the supermarket expressed its intention to "vigorously defend the action brought against it by the ACCC. 


Coles’ ‘fresh’ baked products up to six months old

The not-so-fresh bread at the centre of Coles' latest controversy is baked up to six months before it's sold and as far offshore as in Europe.

Coles has once again hit the headlines this week, with the ACCC launching legal action against the supermarket giant for engaging in false, misleading and deceptive conduct.

It's alleged the supermarket has been supplying bread that is partially baked and frozen off-site, transported to Coles stores and then ‘finished’ in-store. The products are promoted as ‘Baked Today, Sold Today’ and/or ‘Freshly Baked In-Store’.

The legal action covers various ‘Cuisine Royale’ and ‘Coles Bakery’ branded bread products.

According to SMH, croissants, danishes and muffins are being shipped frozen from Germany, Belgium and Denmark.

Janet Blythman, head of the National Baking Industry Association, said a range of baked goods, which when frozen have a shelf life of six to 12 months, are shipped from overseas – a process which takes at least 10 weeks from Europe.

Coles, which has announced it will vigorously defend the allegations, isn't the only supermarket chain engaging in such practices.

According to SMH, Katia Abouthrouche, whose husband manages an IGA store in Annandale, said their bread came from Germany and was frozen until it was needed, and then baked in the morning.

"The people love it fresh," she said.

A Woolworths spokesperson, however, has confirmed all Woolworths bread is made in Australia.


How Coles got busted for its bread

The former Victorian premier, Jeff Kennett, played an integral role in the latest round of bad headlines for Coles, with the supermarket giant accused of misleading and deceptive conduct.

Last year, Kennett got tongues wagging when he started enquiring about the origins of his bread and muffins, sending the baked goods to the ACCC and sharing his thoughts with talkback radio listeners, the SMH reports.

The consumer watchdog hadn’t received any complaints about Coles’ bread until then, but with Kennett’s profile and growing interest in the his cause, was forced to dig deeper.

Yesterday, the ACCC issued a statement announcing that it had launched legal action against the supermarket, which it accused of engaging in deceptive and misleading conduct, specifically in regards to ‘Baked Today, Sold Today’ and ‘Freshly Baked In-Store’ claims on various ‘Cuisine Royale’ and ‘Coles Bakery’ branded bread products.

The ACCC says the marketing of these products is misleading as the bread is partially baked and frozen off-site, transported to Coles stores and ‘finished’ in-store.

According to SMH, court documents have shown that the bakery products were either made in Ireland or had been initially baked in different locations in Australia, some of which were frozen, reheated and then sold as “freshly-baked in-store.”

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said, "There are two important issues at stake. First, consumers must be able to make informed purchasing decisions. Bread is an important grocery basket staple and customers need to be confident in claims made about food they buy.

"We believe consumers are likely to have been misled by Coles that the entire baking process, including preparation, occurred in-store, when in fact the bakery products were prepared and partially baked off site, frozen, transported and then ‘finished’ in store. Indeed, the Cuisine Royale products were partially baked overseas.

"Second and just as important, is the detrimental impact on the businesses of competitors. Misleading credence claims can undermine the level playing field and disadvantage other suppliers. In this case those suppliers are the smaller, often franchised bakeries that compete with Coles," Sims said.

Sims has also said that a Queensland consumer complained to the Queensland fair trading office when they found their “baked today” bread was actually frozen in the middle.

The action brought against it could see Coles hit with fines of up to $1.1 million per offence.

In a statement issued by Coles, the supermarket expressed its intention to "vigorously defend the action brought against it by the ACCC. 

"Coles has only just become aware of the ACCC legal action and will fully examine the ACCC statement before making any further comment," the statement reads.



ACCC launches action against Coles for misleading bakery claims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched proceedings in the Federal Court against Coles.

The ACCC is alleging Coles has engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct in the supply of bread that was partially baked and frozen off-site, transported to Coles stores and ‘finished’ in-store. The products were then promoted as ‘Baked Today, Sold Today’ and/or ‘Freshly Baked In-Store’ at Coles stores with in-house bakeries.

The legal action covers various ‘Cuisine Royale’ and ‘Coles Bakery’ branded bread products.

The ACCC alleges that labels on these par baked products stating ‘Baked Today, Sold Today’ and in some cases ‘Freshly Baked In-Store’, and nearby prominent signs stating ‘Freshly Baked’ or ‘Baked Fresh’, were likely to mislead consumers into thinking that the bread was prepared from scratch in Coles’ in-house bakeries on the day it was offered for sale.

Coles also uses these same representations to promote bread that has been made from scratch in Coles’ in-store bakeries. A statement issued by the ACCC says it is "concerned that Coles’ lack of distinction in its promotional representations between bread products that are freshly prepared from scratch and par baked products is misleading to consumers and places competing bakeries that do freshly bake from scratch at a competitive disadvantage."

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said, "There are two important issues at stake. First, consumers must be able to make informed purchasing decisions. Bread is an important grocery basket staple and customers need to be confident in claims made about food they buy.

"We believe consumers are likely to have been misled by Coles that the entire baking process, including preparation, occurred in-store, when in fact the bakery products were prepared and partially baked off site, frozen, transported and then ‘finished’ in store. Indeed, the Cuisine Royale products were partially baked overseas.

"Second and just as important, is the detrimental impact on the businesses of competitors. Misleading credence claims can undermine the level playing field and disadvantage other suppliers. In this case those suppliers are the smaller, often franchised bakeries that compete with Coles," Sims said.

In a statement issued by Coles, the supermarket expressed its intention to "vigorously defend the action brought against it by the ACCC. 

"Coles has only just become aware of the ACCC legal action and will fully examine the ACCC statement before making any further comment," the statement reads.


Coles points finger at Coke in latest pricing debate

The MD at Coles has pointed his finger at Coca-Cola Amatil and other multinational Australian manufacturers, claiming prices in Australia are too high.

In the latest chapter of the grocery pricing debate, Ian McLeod, Coles' MD, said manufacturers are asking for much higher prices in Australia than in other overseas markets.

As part of the final stages in the creation of a voluntary code of conduct for dealing with manufacturers, McLeod is asking manufacturers to lower their prices for Australian retailers.

McLeod told Financial Review Sunday, on Channel Nine, “In Asia I see Coca-Cola selling for one-third the price in Australia – that raises another question mark … When it’s 60 percent cheaper then you start to question why it should be so much more in Australia. And those are the challenges that we will then put back to the suppliers and say why is this? Why can’t we get a better price, give a better price to the Australian customer?"

He also mentioned the wine industry, arguing that manufacturers are being sold overseas at a discount to local prices.

"You can take wine from Australia to the other end of the world and sell it at a lower retail price – that causes me to question the price being charged here," he said.

McLeod's comments come at the tail end of the creation of a voluntary code of conduct, aimed at regulating and improving the relationship between supermarkets and retailers.

While many producers are in favour of the code, some even pushing for it to be mandatory rather than voluntary, McLeod said it could do more harm than good, and could even bump prices up further.

"If you are not careful prices could go up on the back of it. It adds the risk of an administrative burden, it could mean it takes away the negotiating position of one party or another and therefore we are not able to negotiate the best deal for the customer," he said.

When McLeod first took on the challenge of revitalising the supermarket giant five years ago, consumers, he said, were complaining that grocery prices were too high.

"Those criticisms were being levelled at the supermarkets, they weren’t being levelled at the suppliers," he said. "When we came in and we had a look at what prices were in Australia relative to the prices that were being charged in other countries, we could see difference in price.

"There may be a reason for those differences in price, but you have to question and challenge some of them when you see them."

Just last week news broke that both Coles and Woolworths were planning to tackle the pricing issue with multinational suppliers, with Coles calling for an independent analysis of wholesale pricing, on the basis that local and overseas prices differ so greatly that they can't be blamed solely on distance, higher production costs or the size of the Australian market.

Woolworths agrees that prices need to be reviewed, giving examples of the pricing of products such as toothpaste and deoderant. According to the supermarket giant, the wholesale prices of these items can be 25 to 40 percent higher than the retail price of the same product in the US or the UK.

McLeod also addressed claims, now being investigated by the ACCC, that the supermarket chains misuse their market power to force suppliers to agree to unreasonable conditions.

"We’re not bullies at all," he said.

And he's got recent survey findings to support him – albeit Coles-commissioned ones. A survey in 2008 found that Coles was rated 14th out of 15 suppliers, but this jumped up to a top four position out of 16 in a recent survey.


Coles’ milk deal gives supermarket suppliers a reason to be sour


Earlier this month, Coles and Murray Goulburn announced a ten-year deal that is likely to have significant consequences for the dairy industry, as well as Australia’s grocery sector more broadly.

Starting next year, Murray Goulburn will supply Coles’ private label milk. At the same time, its Devondale brand will be reinvigorated, with its cheeses returning to Coles’ shelves and – at least initially – Coles becoming the exclusive supplier of Devondale fresh milk.

A deal of this length carries with it considerable risk for both parties. Should market dynamics develop unexpectedly over the next decade, Murray Goulburn or Coles may well suffer. Coles might be locked into buying at prices which are no longer competitive, leaving it exposed on an extremely important product; conversely, Murray Goulburn might have committed itself to cost structures that it can’t sustain long-term.

Of course, the contract is likely to include mechanisms for price adjustments to account for such uncertainties. But as many lawyers will tell you, such clauses can often have unexpected shortcomings when reviewed years later. Try to imagine the world in specific commercial detail from now until July 2024 – that’s what the parties and their respective advisors have had to do.

At least Coles and Murray Goulburn have accepted these risks with their eyes wide open. By far, the parties most exposed by this deal are the other major dairy producers, such as Lion and Parmalat. Close behind them is the already over-worked supermarkets team at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

On April 19, the ACCC granted approval to New South Wales farmers to collectively negotiate with Woolworths. This again makes life hard for the likes of Lion which, until Murray Goulburn came along, was Coles’ supplier.

From the ACCC’s perspective, that might just be competition at work. Indeed, superficially, there’s nothing to suggest the Coles-Murray Goulburn deal would raise competition concerns. Right now, Murray Goulburn doesn’t supply fresh milk at all, so how could it?

But the deal’s duration means that potential competitors are locked out of a significant portion of the grocery market. Depending on what else they can do with their milk (obviously Murray Goulburn has managed just fine not supplying fresh milk), this may reduce competition in the dairy sector.

The co-operative structure of Murray Goulburn also provides an interesting twist. Arguably, it’s the absence of a profit-making middleman that provides the foundation for this win-win arrangement. It also means that more dairy farmers will inevitably join the Victorian-based co-operative, particularly given its announced foray into New South Wales.

But the move of dairy farmers to Murray Goulburn will also affect the other major producers. Not only is their access to customers restricted, but they may also have to pay more for their inputs as their supplier base decreases. Over time this may reduce their economies of scale, making them less effective competitors.

The deal may also have broader ramifications. A logical consequence of a duopoly is a reduction in competition in all “upstream” markets. That is, over time, we would expect to see fewer suppliers to the supermarkets. This can create a vicious circle: the more that related markets become concentrated, the harder it is for effective competition to emerge in supermarkets. Smaller players can’t access the large-scale efficient producers, who are locked up by the major chains, and there are fewer “left-over” suppliers to deal with.

The parties haven’t sought authorisation from the ACCC for the deal. As such, they are confident that it doesn’t give rise to a substantial lessening of competition. If it did, the ACCC could bring court action, seeking an end to the arrangement as well as substantial penalties.

If the ACCC is concerned, at least it has time to make its assessment. Technically, it’s got another 17 years or so. But the market will adjust to this deal and, as they say, it’s hard to unscramble an egg. If the ACCC is worried, it needs to act sooner rather than later.

Regardless of ACCC action, it’s hard to see the milk wars continuing. In announcing the deal, Murray Goulburn said that the shelf price of milk will not affect returns to its farmers. This suggests prices are locked in — if so, Coles is hardly likely to take a hit on milk for the next decade. While consumers loved the savings (estimated to be $70 million a day), $1 a litre was widely considered to be unsustainable. At least dairy farmers can breathe more easily now.

A couple of years ago, milk was at the vanguard of the relaunch of private labels by the major supermarket chains. Now, it might be surfing the wave of the next big change. First, we had fewer supermarkets; next, will we have fewer suppliers?

Alexandra Merrett was previously a senior enforcement lawyer at the ACCC.

The Conversation







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Inefficient producers could be cut: Wesfarmers

The chief executive of Wesfarmers, owner of Coles, Target, Bunnings and a number of other retail chains, has threatened to cut ties with inefficient producers.

Richard Goyder said on Thursday 18 April that suppliers who don't invest in their business appropriately could be shelved, the AFR reports.

"Any business in this country has to be looking at how efficient it is," he said. "Our business is not to prop up inefficient suppliers but supply great products to our customers in the best way we can."

Goyder's comments come after Wesfarmers reported its strongest quarterly sales growth in two years.

Coles and Woolworths are both being investivated by the ACCC amid claims from producers that the supermarket chains use less than noble tactics to drive prices down.

Goyder, however, says overall, it's dealings with producers are positive and Coles is now sourcing $2.8bn more fresh, local produce than in 2008.

"The vast majority of our arrangements are constructive … and suppliers on the whole are grateful we have been able to turn this business around," he said.

Supermarket chains are increasingly focussing on bypassing the middleman and dealing directly with producers, with Coles last week signing a $2bn-plus private label milk supply deal with Murray Goulburn and Norco.

They've also spent months working on a voluntary code of conduct with the grocery sector, and according to AFR hope to reach an agreement in the next few weeks, despite farmers calling for a mandatory rather than a voluntary code.



Woolies tries to improve image with new milk plan

Woolworths is planning to bypass the middleman, buying milk directly from farmers rather than dealing with processors, in an attempt to prove it doesn't exploit producers.

According to AFR, farmers are unsure if dealing directly with the supermarket giant will be of benefit, with concerns that Woolworths might impose extra conditions and further dry up costs.

The National Farmers Federation is supporting the proposal, however, with president Jock Laurie arguing it could give farmers more bargaining power.

"When you're dealing directly with farmers and understanding the costs of production, you can take all that into consideration at the time of negotiation of the contract," he told AFR.

Woolworths plans to market the milk under a new brand, 'Farmer's Own' which it hopes will convince consumers that it supports primary producers.

In order for it to go ahead, however, farmers would need to get authorisation from the ACCC to bargain collectively with Woolworths rather than the processors.

News emerged earlier this week that WA dairy farmers are reluctant to sign long term contracts with milk processors, for fear that they won't see strong returns, despite the current milk shortage and a rise in demand.


Producers prefer dealing with Aldi

A number of grocery producers have spoken out – under the veil of autonomy – admitting they prefer dealing with Aldi over the supermarket duopoly.

According to SMH, the producers, who provide groceries ranging from fruit and vegetables to household products, said Aldi pays invoices faster and is easier to work with.

One supplier said Aldi absorbs losses on sales rather than reducing supplier prices or increasing costs, which both Coles and Woolworths are guilty of.

The producers' comments are in response to a dossier produced by Woolworths which claims that Aldi's presence has led to an increase in private label products and a more competitive market for grocery retailers.

The dossier also claims that Woolworths' market share has remained stagnant since 2007, while Aldi's has grown three percent since then.

It says that 95 percent of Aldi's products are private labels, but suppliers insist the German-owned chain still buys from local producers, even paying a premium to do so, and only asks suppliers to compete with other Australian suppliers, not international ones as is the case with Coles and Woolworths.

A spokesperson for Coles insisted the brand has an Australian-first sourcing policy, and usually only looks internationally when an Australian version isn't available or when consumers want an alternative choice.

The ACCC is currently looking into allegations the supermarket duolopy employs bullying tactics in its dealings with suppliers in order to drive prices down. 


ACCC to crack down on free range and other food claims

The ACCC is this year prioritising credence claims in the food industry with chairman Rod Sims making special mention of “free range” eggs, country of origin labelling and the labeling of olive oils.

According to Adelaide Now, in November last year, the ACCC said it planned to reject a trademark certification application by the Australian Egg Corporation because the proposed rules would have allowed eggs to marketed as "free range" even though chicken densities would be "very significantly higher than those in existing standards”. Beak trimming would also have been "routinely practised.”

ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said "Country of origin claims, region of origin, like does meat come from King Island? We'll be focusing on whether things are organic or free-range when they claim to be," he explained.

Sims’ comments referencing King Island refer to a recent case where a business was found to have misled its consumers, leading them to believe that its meat came from King Island.

"We've taken cases, and we'll take more, on things like is the product what you're getting – you think you're getting extra virgin olive oil – are you? You think you're buying wool – are you?" asked Sims.

Other focus areas for the ACCC in 2013 include door-to-door salespeople, false claims by telecommunications and IT companies, unjustifiable price hikes blaimed on the carbon tax and protecting indigenous consumers.

The ACCC also recently announced its investigation into the supermarket duopoly amid claims Coles and Woolworths employ bullying tactics on producers to force prices down.


Inquiry into supermarket bullying misses the real issue


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced last week that it is investigating claims that Coles and Woolworths are bullying suppliers. The issue is serious, but the ACCC investigation only treats the symptom and diverts attention away from the real cause of the problem: supermarket power.

ACCC enforcement action against the duopoly for “unconscionable conduct” is nothing but a skirmish on the edge of supermarket power. It would be much better to spend time and money on creating alternative ways in which the eaters and producers of food can connect with each other outside of the major supermarket chains.

Chances are the ACCC will not win any unconscionable conduct case against the supermarkets. They have had very limited success in taking action for such conduct in the past. The relevant provisions poorly define unconscionable conduct and leave it to the courts to make a moral judgement in the circumstances of each case.

Here, the allegations are certainly serious. Suppliers claim that Coles and Woolworths require them to make payments above and beyond that negotiated in order to stock their products, and that the supermarkets impose penalties that do not form part of any negotiated terms of trade. Suppliers also claim that the duopoly does not pay the prices agreed and that they discriminate in favour of their own home-brand products.

These tactics may be unattractive, even uncivilised. But they are exactly what we should expect when two retailers hold 80 percent of the grocery market. Coles and Woolworths likely have a bevy of lawyers ready to show that their terms were set out in contracts that suppliers freely agreed to; any deviations were the rogue acts of individual bad apples. The supermarkets will argue that this is nothing more than robust competition in the interests of low prices for consumers.

It will be difficult for the ACCC to prove otherwise. In a competitive marketplace, why not ask for the lowest possible price from suppliers and demand extra payments for shelf space, in-store advertising and so on? Why not prefer home-brand products if they make more profit for the supermarket?

The real worry is the fact that these two supermarkets have gained so much power in the first place. We should not be wasting precious public resources fighting over particular instances of the abuse of that power. Instead, we should use every ounce of imagination and creativity we have to challenge the Coles and Woolworths duopoly over grocery retailing and therefore over the very relationship between consumers and their food.

The tragedy of the Coles-Woolworths duopoly is the narrow, greedy, profit-oriented way in which they control and manipulate the relationship between all of us who eat food and those who produce it. The supermarkets say that they are just delivering what consumers want – cheap, reliable, accessible food. Squeezing producers on prices is supposedly part of that equation.

Yet it is the supermarkets and processed food companies that present food to us as something that should be cheap, plentiful and industrial – devoid of any connection with the earth, sun, animals, plants and people who produce it. They barely give us a chance to find out about where our food comes from, let alone at what cost to humans and ecosystems it is produced and sold. If we knew, we would be shocked.

Take “free range” eggs as an example. Woolworths claim to be continually improving animal welfare standards throughout the supply chain. Coles claim to be helping customers switch to “free range” by cutting their prices on cage free eggs.

Yet both are demanding that producers supply “free range” eggs at a price that can only be delivered by an industrialised, concentrated egg production and retail system. This system does not and cannot match the glossy pictures of happy hens on the carton, yet consumers are told that this is what “free range” must mean.

Many consumers turn off “industrialised supermarket free range” as soon as they realise the conditions that the hens are actually kept in. They are even more likely to do so once they meet a farmer at a farmer’s market and taste a day-old egg from a truly happy hen for breakfast. The story can be repeated for any number of foods on the supermarket shelves.

Duopoly supermarket power is stopping us seeing and imagining alternative ways of producing and buying food. The supermarkets like to tell us that they are giving us affordable choices. Instead of spending money fighting over who they bully to deliver us those low cost choices, let’s spend time and money finding, celebrating and developing alternatives such as local, organic or wholefood stores, farmers' markets, exchange at community food hubs and backyard and urban gardens.

If we spent public money on creating alternative retail spaces and developing affordable ways to make tasty, fresh, sustainable food then there would be some true competition for Coles and Woolworths. Instead of asking the ACCC to occasionally thump the duopolists, let’s try to imagine how to nurture thriving small scale social enterprise to build healthier local relationships between us and our food. Then we can figure out what we need to do to make sure that Coles and Woolworths don’t undermine creative alternatives.

Christine Parker does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

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Farmers speak out on their struggles with supermarkets

A fourth-generation cattle farmer has spoken publicly about the losses he has suffered at the hands of Australia's supermarket duopoly, claiming his income last year was slashed by $80,000.

It was announced last week that Coles and Woolworths will be investigated by the ACCC amid claims they employ bullying tactics to drive prices down. Fifty producers came forward, under the protection of anonymity, with evidence of misconduct by the supermarkets.

Brian Wilson, a cattle farmer near Tamworth, told SMH many farmers have been forced to sell their product at a loss, and the $1 milk offering which both supermarkets boast has had a terrible impact on his livelihood.

"The last financial year, we were probably down $80,000 on our milk income,'' he said. ''The processors can't talk with each other to keep their prices up, so it becomes very cutthroat … They get the contract but it's good news and bad news because they have to go so low to get it," he said.

The situation is so bad that in the past year, 30 farmers in NSW have left the dairy industry because of price cutting by the duopoly, said NSW Farmers Association chief executive, Matt Brand.

"The reality is supermarkets aren't going anywhere and neither is agriculture and we need to all be able to sit down and have a serious look at supply chain solutions," Brand told SMH.

Both supermarkets have agreed to co-operate with the ACCC investigation.


ACCC investigates supermarket duopoly amid bullying claims

Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths are being investigated by the ACCC amid claims they bully food and grocery suppliers to force their prices down.

According to SMH, news of the ACCC's investigation following Wesfarmers confirmation that is has asked Coles executives to investigate accusations of wrongdoing when dealing with its suppliers.

"We are doing our own investigations and obviously the ACCC is doing its and we will just let it all unfold," Wesfarmers boss, Richard Goyder, said.

The SMH reports that under the promise of identity protection, approximately 50 suppliers have approached the ACCC with evidence of misconduct by the supermarket duopoly.

The ACCC's investigation will consider claims that the supermarkets impose penalties on suppliers that aren't part of the terms of trade, favour homebrand products, threaten to remove products from the shelves if extra payments or penalties aren't paid and fail to pay prices agreed with suppliers.

Claire Kimball, a spokeswoman for Woolworths, said "Woolworths has a very strong focus on ensuring its business dealings are fair and lawful."

If proven to be true, the allegations carry multi-million dollar fines.

KAP (Katter's Australian Party) federal member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, said the party has been putting pressure on the ACCC and its chairman Rob Sims for some time now, and is grateful for the competition watchdog's response.

“We are terrifically gratified and heartened that at least someone is trying for us. Every farmer in Australia now has a platform to voice their desperate plight," said Katter.

“The farmers of Australia have been beaten, battered and bullied by these supermarkets and now they will finally get the chance to tell their side of the story."

Katter called on every Australian farmer to write an anonymous letter submitting their support for ACCC's investigation.