The Australian government has today (Monday, June 24) announced plans to strengthen the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct to address cost of living concerns and combat anti-competitive behaviour in the sector.

This action comes following recommendations from a recent independent review.

The review, led by Dr. Craig Emerson, found that the current voluntary code is insufficient in balancing the bargaining power between supermarkets and their suppliers, which include many farmers.

Suppliers have expressed fears of retribution from supermarkets if they raise concerns or exercise their rights under the existing code.

Food and Grocery Code

The government has committed to implementing all recommendations from the review. Key changes include:

  • Making the code mandatory for supermarkets with annual Australian revenue exceeding $5 billion;
  • Strengthening both formal and informal dispute-resolution mechanisms;
  • Introducing penalties for severe breaches of the code, with maximum penalties being the greater of $10 million, three times the benefit gained, or 10% of turnover from the preceding 12 months;
  • Establishing an anonymous supplier and whistle-blower complaints mechanism within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC);
  • Emphasising the need to address suppliers’ fear of retribution;
  • Improving outcomes specifically for suppliers of fresh produce.

These recommendations will require changes to existing regulations and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which the government has said is has prioritised.

The Australian government views this review and its implementation as a crucial element of its broader competition reform agenda which also includes an inquiry into supermarket prices.


Meanwhile Irish farmers are also looking for guarantees.

Last week, the Agri-Food Regulator (An Rialálaí Agraibhia) published its inaugural strategy statement setting out a roadmap for the first three years of the new office.

The regulator, which was formally established in December, is tasked with promoting fairness and transparency across all levels of the agri-food supply chain.

The regulator, which comes under the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain Act 2023, will ensure compliance with legislation on unfair trading practices (UTPs).

It will seek price and market data information from businesses along the agri-food supply chain which is not publicly available.