Saturday, June 22, 2024

Food industry groups welcome Horticulture Code

Two food-industry bodies – AUSVEG and Fresh Markets Australia – have welcomed the federal Government’s proposed reforms to the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

The proposed reforms were announced this week following an independent review in 2015.

The Horticulture Code was created in 2007 to regulate trade in horticulture produce between growers and traders. It is a mandatory industry code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The new code will come into effect in April.

The Government’s reforms are aimed at increasing transparency and accountability between growers and wholesalers. The reforms include new requirements for traders to keep records of transactions and of the growers and buyers with which they do business.

The code will also introduce civil penalties for serious breaches.

A spokesperson from the national body, AUSVEG, which represents Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, says the ACCC will be better able to enforce the code.

“The announcement of civil penalties means there are now greater recourses available for all parties who have suffered from behaviour which breaches the obligations laid out by the code,” AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said.

The fresh-produce wholesaling sector’s representative group, Fresh Markets Australia (FMA), also welcomed the proposed reforms, albeit with a couple of exceptions.

“FMA believes that the inclusion of monetary penalties will be anticompetitive, as these provisions will apply to just one sector of the industry,” FMA Executive Director Andrew Young said.

FMA noted that similar penalties do not exist under the voluntary Food and Grocery Code, which applies to the retail chains, while there is no regulation of other retailers buying directly from growers.

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