Wrestling with giants - a critical account of supermarket power and competition laws in Australia and United Kingdom
Date of this Version
On 13 February 2013 at the Senate Additional Budget Estimates, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims, announced the ACCC will investigate the grocery supply chain and anti-competitive behaviour of Woolworths and Coles accused of “bullying” producers. The sentiment underlining the ACCC announcement is the expectation that this behaviour is unwarranted, anti-competitive and must be adequately regulated. This article will establish that the Australian and United Kingdom national governments must ultimately enact new mandatory competition legislation governing the entire grocery supply chain to regulate the anti-competitive practices of supermarkets. The United Kingdom regulatory Ombudsman model is likely to be replicated in Australia and is an initial step in the right direction during the interim to monitor supermarket practices. However, there is compelling evidence to suggest the current environment of self-regulation requires a major review and restructure of current supermarket codes, encompassing the reform of competition legislation to develop a sustainable food supply chain.
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