COVID-19: Supermarkets Granted Authorisation To Work Together
In response to shortages caused by COVID-19 panic-buying, the ACCC has granted interim authorisation for supermarket operators to work together in order to ensure the reliable supply of food and grocery items.
This allows supermarkets to immediately begin coordinating with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers.
In normal circumstances, such activity would be in conflict with the competition provision of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Importantly, the temporary authorisation does not allow supermarkets to agree on how their products will be priced.
It is hoped that closer coordination will enable the fair and equitable distribution of groceries to Australian consumers, particularly for those who are vulnerable or live in rural and remote areas.
The ACCC’s authorisation stems from recommendations made by the Department of Home Affairs’ Supermarket Taskforce – which has representatives from various government departments, supermarkets, the grocery supply chain and the ACCC.
“We recognise and appreciate that individual supermarket chains have already taken a number of important steps to mitigate the many issues caused by panic-buying,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “We believe allowing these businesses to work together to discuss further solutions is appropriate and necessary at this time.”
Last week Aldi published a press release that read: “The aim of every Australian supermarket is to provide you and your family with the food and essentials you need. That’s why collectively, we want to reassure you that your wellbeing, and that of our teams, will always be our priority.”
A Coles spokesperson told ChannelNews, “A coordinated response will enable us to quickly implement consistent and appropriate measures as required.”