NSW farmers welcome court action against Coles

NSW Farmers dairy and horticulture producers today welcomed Federal Court action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against Coles in which it alleged the supermarket engaged in unconscionable conduct contravening the Australian Consumer Law.

The association’s horticulture spokesperson Peter Darley said the action by ACCC had confirmed what farmers had suspected for many years – that it had misused market power in its negotiations with suppliers.

“We have been saying for years that supermarket power in this country has meant that it is easy for the big supermarkets to pressure suppliers by taking advantage of their superior bargaining position,” Mr Darley said.

“I am pleased to hear today that the ACCC has taken these allegations against Coles seriously and that they will have to be answered in a court of law.

This is the type of activity that farming communities won’t stand for.

“Rural and regional Australia expects better. We expect a fair negotiation and a fair deal. It is unfortunate that such tactics have impacted negatively on many farming families already.”

NSW Farmers dairy spokesperson Rob McIntosh said: “While we hope for a resolution in the Federal Court on this matter, I look forward in the longer term to the strengthening of competition laws in this country as a result of the root and branch review which is currently being undertaken.”

The ACCC has alleged that Coles had engaged in unconscionable conduct towards 200 of its smaller suppliers, in breach of consumer law.

These proceedings arise from a broader investigation by the ACCC into allegations that supermarket suppliers were being treated inappropriately by the major supermarket chains. That broader investigation is continuing.

NSW Farmers has called for the imposition of a strong mandatory code of conduct in the supermarket sector and is working with the NFF to provide a clear strong voice for agriculture in the Government’s review of Australia’s competition laws.

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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