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New inquiry into Australia’s fresh food supply chain

The ACCC will commence a new three-month inquiry into harmful imbalances of bargaining power across the domestic supply chain, from the farmgate through to major supermarkets, for perishable agricultural goods, including meat, eggs, seafood & dairy.

On Wednesday 26th August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision announced it will begin a three-month inquiry into imbalances and bargaining power in supply chains for perishable agricultural products in Australia.

The inquiry, initiated by the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, will take a broad look at trading practices throughout supply chains, including the relationships between farmers, processors and retailers.

Micheal McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister said that this is what the nationals have secured, and “we will always fight for our primary producers”.

The Government is focussed on ensuring the right domestic policy settings are in place, and is directing the ACCC to examine the nature of bargaining power in the supply chains for perishable agricultural goods covering meat (pork, lamb, beef), poultry (chicken meat and eggs), seafood, and horticulture goods where not already covered by a mandatory industry code.

In conducting its inquiry, the ACCC is to have regard to the interests of Australian consumers and how the impacts of unreasonable bargaining power imbalances in the supply chain can affect them.

The ACCC will review the extent to which any potential bargaining power imbalances in these relationships can adversely impact the efficient operation of these markets, and the role of market structures and regulations in delivering efficient and equitable outcomes.

“This inquiry provides an opportunity to take a broad look at perishable agricultural supply chains in Australia, utilising knowledge we have gained in working across a range of agricultural issues,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

The ACCC will also examine the effectiveness of the new Dairy Code of Conduct including by considering options to extend the code across the entire domestic dairy supply chain.

All producers of fresh food – including chicken, beef, lamb, pork, eggs, dairy, seafood, fruit and vegetables – are encouraged to make a submission to this important inquiry.

The ACCC will be accepting confidential submissions in order to encourage as many parties as possible to provide their view to the inquiry.

“The Government is committed to supporting a vibrant and sustainable market-based agricultural sector that operates for the benefit of consumers. Importantly, in conducting the inquiry the ACCC will take into account the Government’s long-standing policy that it does not regulate prices along the supply chain,” Frydenberg and Littleproud said in a joint statement.

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