The Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA), whichrepresents the major supermarket and retail groups in Australia,has told an Australian parliamentary inquiry into Australia'sfood processing industry that it opposes the idea of a supermarketombudsman. The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) which representsmost of the supplier Brands for food and grocery products in itsmembership of Australian-based manufacturers and importers, hasbeen vocal in its support for the introduction of a supermarketombudsman. The Supermarket Ombudsman would have the function ofinvestigating and resolving disputes between any large retailer anda supplier. Speaking to the Senate Select Committee Inquiry intoAustralia's Food Processing Sector hearing last week, theANRA, Chief Executive said a supermarket ombudsman is "notnecessary". |
ANRA's Chief Executive, Margy Osmond told the Senate hearingthat the ANRA believes that the Horticulture Code of Conduct andthe Australian Competition and Consumer Act provide the necessaryframework to ensure fair and appropriate conduct during commercialrelationships. "These regimes cover all businesses in the supply food chainand do not single out large operators simply because they drive ahard bargain to the benefit of consumers," Ms Osmond said. Retailer criticism of AFGC's ‘Code of Conduct'idea In conjunction with the idea of a supermarket ombudsman, the AFGChas also been calling for the introduction of a new ‘Code ofConduct' to regulate acceptable approaches for tradingterms and contract negotiations . The AFGC has stated that the power imbalance between manufacturersand the two major retailers in Australia has reached the pointwhere manufacturers have no leverage at all and there is a marketfailure.
At the inquiry hearing last week, the ANRA's Margy Osmondsaid the AFGC's Code of Conduct would, in fact, limitcompetition that requires a change to the current regulatorysystem. Ms Osmond told the hearing, "I understand that the AFGC hassaid in its testimony to this inquiry that Aldi would not becovered by their proposed code and would, for example, be able tocontinue stocking all their shelves with private label goods whileColes and Woolworths faced restrictions on how it managed shelfspace. "This would only act to limit the ability of Coles andWoolworths to compete with new entrants and drive prices higher formums and dads, making the AFGC supermarket ombudsman and associatedregulations highly anticompetitive," Ms Osmond said.
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