In early April, some of Australia’s favourite pet food manufacturers such as Whiskas, Pedigree, My Dog and Dine and Uncle Toby’s cereals disappeared from shelves across the nation in what seemed to be an ongoing price war between supermarkets and suppliers.
The ACCC said in a statement it is aware of the problems and is analysing the issue.
The ACCC’s code of conduct comprises rules concerning grocery supply arrangements, payments, termination of agreements, dispute resolution and a range of other matters. It’s a voluntary code, under the Competition and Consumer Act, and for that reason only applies to retailers or retailers that have chosen to be bound by the Code, something which Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and About Life have done.
While the code requires both retailers and providers to act “in good faith”, there can be grounds for a merchant to list a product that’s withheld by a provider or unobtainable for some time.
Industry sources stated that this area is open to possible abuse because most suppliers don’t have sufficient market information to argue their case.
The ACCC invites providers to report alleged breaches of the Act or Code and has also made submissions to a current review of the Food and Grocery Code.
A spokesperson for Woolworths said its group members are trained to comply with all the requirements of the code of behaviour.