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Supermarket giants approved to continue supply chain collaboration

Coles, Woolworths, Metcash, Aldi, and other grocery retailers have been approved by the ACCC to continue cooperating together to ensure supply of food and groceries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under an ACCC authorisation granted on Thursday September 3, Supermarket operators including Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi will be allowed to coordinate with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers.

“We recognise the impacts that the pandemic continues to have across the economy, including within the food and grocery sector,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

“Allowing this authorisation to continue will likely result in public benefits by giving supermarket operators the opportunity to maximise consumer access to retail groceries, reduce community concerns and stockpiling behaviour, and reduce strain on retail supply chains.”

The authorised conduct only applies to discussions and agreements made at meetings convened by government agencies.

The ACCC has been attending these meetings to observe and monitor the use of the authorisation, and to assess whether it should continue.

“The recent Victorian outbreak and stage 4 restrictions have highlighted the benefits of this authorisation in assisting retailers to maintain supply of grocery products, including to those customers in regional and remote areas,” Stephen said.

Authorisation is granted on similar terms to the interim authorisation and does not extend to coordination about the prices of retail products.

The ACCC is granting authorisation until 31 March 2021.

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