Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Grocery retail code review 'overdue' and possibly 'underdone'



Download PDFDownload PDF

senator.cherry@democrats.org.au www.democrats.org.au News releases can also be sent by email. Please advise us if you want to join the email distribution list.

DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/300 SUNDAY 18 APRIL 2004 SENATOR JOHN CHERRY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS EMPLOYMENT SPOKESPERSON Grocery Retail Code Review 'overdue' and possibly 'underdone' The Australian Democrats have called on the Government to release the review of the Retail Grocery Industry Code and Ombudsman Scheme which was supposed to be finished in December. Democrats Agriculture spokesperson, Senator John Cherry said the current three year old code was hopelessly inadequate in delivering a fair playing field between farmers, wholesalers and retailers on food prices and that the review needed to significantly bolster the code. "Last month, a major report by the Federal Agriculture Department revealed that the farmer's margins on many food items had fallen sharply with the retailers increasing their share," he said. "Commodity price analysis shows that over the past five years, food prices in supermarkets have risen by twice the inflation rate of other goods and services, while prices paid to farmers have been static or falling. "The review of the Retail Industry Code is the best chance that the Government has got to start redressing the unfair bargaining arrangements faced by farmers dealing with wholesale agents and the big retail chains. "The current code has proven to be hopelessly inadequate, despite the energetic efforts of the Ombudsman Bob Gaussen. "Clearly the Ombudsman needs more powers, and farmers need more certainty and transparency, if fair business practices are to be introduced into farm prices. "Last month's food prices report revealed that the farmers' share of retail milk prices has fallen from 42% to 25% of the final price since 1997, while the retailers' share rose from 17% to 22%. "Pineapple prices paid to farmers have not risen since 1997 while the retail price rose 40%. "A similar story was evident in the prices for eggs, beef, pork, peas, oranges, tomatoes and bananas, with retail prices rising faster than farm gate prices. "A revised Code needs to include more transparency in the bargaining process, more certainty about produce standards, more powers to demand information, firmer resolution of disputes and clear legal sanctions for any retaliatory action against complaints. "And the Code needs to be backed up by endorsement by the ACCC and a tougher Trade Practices Act that delivers teeth for breaches," he concluded. Media Contact - Pam Hose - 0408 752 750