Could this really be the end to supermarket bullying? 38



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It’s been just six months since the federal government launched the new Grocery Code and already two of our leading supermarkets have been pulled up on the way they treat Aussie suppliers.

The ACCCC yesterday announced it was investigating reports about the approach supermarket retailers are taking to implement the new Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.

Chairman Rod Sims said, “The ACCC has concerns as to the manner in which some retailers, in particular Woolworths and Aldi, are presenting new Grocery Supply Agreements (GSAs), which might give the impression that the supplier is not able to negotiate the terms of the GSA.”

“The ACCC is also concerned about the low level of detail provided in some GSAs about the circumstances in which certain payments may arise.”

The competition commission says it is responding to complaints by suppliers, which is a turnaround from just a year ago when suppliers were often too afraid to speak out against the big supermarkets for fear of losing their position on the shelves.

A spokesperson for Woolworths told the ABC it was responding to a “minor wording issue” with its supplier agreement. The supermarkets said it supports the Code, and considers that it “worked exactly as it was intended to” in this case.

Meanwhile, Aldi has acknowledged the claim and says it will exercise due diligence. The German supermarket was the first to sign the Grocery Code, quickly followed by Coles and Woolworths.

Mr Sims says, “The aim of the Code is to redress the imbalance in bargaining power that can exist between suppliers and large grocery retailers by prohibiting certain types of unfair conduct.”

“The Code imposes a duty to deal with suppliers in good faith and we are concerned by reports we have received from suppliers that suggest that some retailers have not got off to a good start when it comes to implementing the Code,” Mr Sims said.

The Code sets out a number of prohibitions on, for example, requiring a payment for wastage that occurs at the premises of the retailer. While it is possible for retailers and suppliers to opt out of such prohibitions, this can only occur if the opt outs are agreed, if the agreement sets out the circumstances in which the opt out applies and if the payment is reasonable in the circumstances.

“One of the purposes of the Code is to provide certainty to suppliers, who are often in a much weaker bargaining position when dealing with retailers. In order to provide that certainty, the ACCC expects retailers to set out the circumstances in which they will seek payments from suppliers,” Mr Sims said.

Are you happy to see the Grocery Code in action? Do you think this is the answer to a fairer system for farmers and food producers? 

Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. It appears to be a start. History suggests that it will need to be monitored and reviewed closely. A ‘true’ fair go IS needed.

  2. I don’t know about shelved goods, but we have friends who grow fresh produce for the big supermarket chains, and they have been getting rorted for years. They have to conform to the supermarket’s rules and demands, but are not allowed to have demands of their own. They have to wait ages for payment for goods delivered; and produce can be rejected on a whim. I know the food companies have to pay a premium for shelf position. I wish we still had the corner grocery store. I know where I would shop.

    2 REPLY
    • Nat at all surprised to hear this Mary, and me too I would love a corner store, if enough people support them they can be viable!

    • The big guys wiped them out and would do so again. Too sad. Even all local hardware stores are gone and our smaller local chemists are fast disappearing because of the large warehouse chemists. Soon there will be nowhere we get personalized service. We will/are just money waiting in a queue.

  3. First it is only a Voluntary code which the supermarkets helped write…secondly, it will all depends how it administrated… If the government cuts funding to this, it will be rendered useless. The same as the monitoring on mining activities , lots of mines getting away with doing the wrong thing when they are supposed to follow world best practise.!!!

    2 REPLY
    • Maryvonne, I’m not sure which area of mining you are referring to, as I know next to nothing about them. My son works for a company that does underground radar searching for many mines. He has to do a two day induction before being allowed on site. All their equipment has to be inspected and tagged, vehicles inspected, even if brand new. Personal health checks and weights taken. The safety measures seem to me to be taken to the extreme, but I know people are hurt or worse in the mines. So, as far as safety is concerned, no short cuts. As for other wrong doing, I am, as I would think many are, unaware.

    • I am sure lots of mines have good up to date work safe practice, but I know a lot of farms who have CSG wells on their properties who are paying the price for poor management of air quality and dubious handling of waste water, their complains have been ignored, some farmers even had to move to keep their family safe. A lot of it has been pushed under the carpet .

  4. it’s a start, but a lot more needs to be done. Bullying of suppliers and Aussie farmers is one reason they have lost a lot of customers.

  5. To everyone out there who only shop at Aldi because they are so bloody cheap, have a think about it, as for woolworths not surprised at anything they would do to dupe their customers.

  6. and what about the ACCC get off their asses and investigate the halal bullshit extortion ?

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