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Grocery Code set for 2015 implementation

The federal government’s draft voluntary Food and Grocery Code of Conduct is now with Coles and Woolworths and key suppliers, 19 months after it was first proposed, but whether it will be effective and also enforceable under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 may be another matter.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said the federal government is now awaiting feedback from key parties on the draft Code, which is designed to help curb market power abuses in the retail supply chain with specific focus on actions by the dominant retail duopoly, Coles and Woolworths.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said in September that the new Code will have ”real teeth”.

“We believe this code will strike the right balance and while we need an effective, competitive market, it will be an instrument of Parliament, has a lot more bite and there will be significant penalties associated with breaches of the code,” an AFGC spokesperson said.

Coles and Woolworths reached agreement with the AFGC on the provisions of a new Code in November 2013.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Billson said the government had completed its work and returned the draft to participating parties for final examination, while it would go to Cabinet with a likely 2015 release.

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