AGRICULTURE Minister Kim Chance has called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (AC

24 Jan, 2007 08:45 PM

Under the new system, around 50 beef producers will be invited to submit weekly offers for the provision of boxed beef.

Farm Weekly revealed exclusively last year that Coles¹ WA supermarkets did not stock beef sourced locally.

Coles spokesman Scott Whiffin said the plan to source meat outside of normal contracts was not related to the current external investigation.

³We already source product outside our fixed contractual arrangements,² he said.

³We are looking at our sourcing of product and how we can do it better.²

Mr Whiffin could not confirm whether there would be more beef sourced from WA as part of the new tender process.

Mr Chance said he had written to ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel requesting his assurance that the ACCC was investigating the allegations involving employees within the Coles Group.

³There needs to be improved transparency within national alliances where individual suppliers are involved,² Mr Chance said.

³Coles had a responsibility that their supply arrange-ments did not affect national markets and the ACCC is in place to guarantee competitiveness and integrity of market systems.

³I am looking for an assurance that the ACCC, if they are not already, will be undertaking a rigorous investigation of the allegations.²

Mr Chance believes that there are more serious issues to consider than just a breach of a code of conduct.

³Coles has been looked upon as a victim of this situa-tion, but their failure to en-sure straight dealing within their supply arrangements has had a huge effect on the WA beef industry, which was effectively locked out of the Coles supply chain,² he said.

³This lock-out has contri-buted to depressed prices for WA beef producers and it is also conceivable that it con-tributed to the EG Green turmoil.²

Mr Chance said Coles¹ recent invitation to beef producers to tender for contracts was a step in the right direction.

³I believe the move could be of benefit to WA beef producers, but I really think Coles need to go further than that by providing more transparency within their supply chains,² he said.

The ACCC was not prepared to comment on whether an investigation into the Coles Group dealings was to be carried out.


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