Fresh fruit and vegetable supplier GetFresh Merchants has been fined $43,150 after the ACCC issued it with three infringement notices for alleged contraventions of the Horticulture Code of Conduct.
The ACCC alleges that GetFresh failed to have horticulture produce agreements in place while trading with growers, and failed to publish its terms of trade, as required by the Horticulture Code.
“The Horticulture Code exists to bring certainty and transparency to transactions between fruit and vegetable growers and traders, and the Code’s most fundamental requirement is that trading needs to occur under contracts called horticulture produce agreements,” says ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh.
“Growers and traders are afforded certain protections by having compliant horticulture produce agreements, including in relation to dispute resolution.
“As well as buying and selling under written agreements, traders must make their terms of trade publicly available so growers can compare the terms and conditions of potential buyers of their produce.”
GetFresh is the fourth fruit and vegetable trader to have paid a penalty this year for alleged breaches of the Code.
Green Endeavour and Bache Bros each paid a penalty of $13,750 for allegedly failing to make their terms of trade publicly available.
Nutrano paid penalties totalling $24,850 for allegedly having non-compliant horticulture produce agreements and failing to specify the price it received for produce in grower statements. Nutrano also provided the ACCC with a court-enforceable undertaking.
The ACCC updated its industry guidance on the Horticulture Code in August last year and signalled a shift in focus from education and compliance to enforcement.
“All horticultural traders should be on notice that we are monitoring their compliance with the Horticulture Code and will take enforcement action where appropriate,” says Mr Keogh.