Supermarket operators can continue to collaborate on facilitating food and grocery supplies until at least March next year.
In a draft determination, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said the arrangement can continue amid increasing outbreaks of COVID-19.
The measure was introduced in March, after panic buying disrupted supply chains and left supermarket shelves bare. It was aimed at boosting supplies across fresh food, household items and groceries across supermarket chains, especially in rural and remote areas.
The arrangement allows Coles, Woolworths, Metcash and ALDI to co-ordinate when dealing with manufacturers, suppliers, transport and logistics providers. It does not include the pricing of retail products.
ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said the watchdog believed the arrangement benefited consumers during the pandemic.
“The recent outbreak in Melbourne has highlighted the benefit of this authorisation, with supermarkets and authorities able to meet and coordinate their responses rapidly, maximising the availability of groceries and other essential goods,” Mr Ridgeway said.
“The authorisation facilitates supermarkets working together to ensure everyone, including vulnerable consumers or those from rural and remote areas, have fair and reliable access to fresh food, groceries and other household goods.”
The draft proposal has been opened to submissions, which can be made via the ACCC’s public register.