“Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services,” Mr Sims said. “This is essentially due to unnecessary panic buying, and the logistics challenge this presents, rather than an underlying supply problem.”
Coles, Woolworths, ALDI and Metcash are included in the agreement, and any other grocery retailer is able to participate if they wish. The agreement does not allow the supermarkets to collectively agree on prices for products, however it will protect the supermarkets from any court action for conduct that would otherwise raise concerns under competition law.
The Department of Home Affairs has also established a ‘Supermarket Taskforce’, with representatives from the government, the ACCC, and the retailers, which will look to resolve any issues facing the sector during this crisis.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci welcomed the authorisation of the agreement.
“We’re pleased that the ACCC and the government are supportive of sensible collaboration between Coles, ALDI, Metcash and Woolworths in this challenging period for the Australian community,” he said.
“It’s in the national interest for retailers to be able to collaborate on issues such as the health and safety of team members and customers, and on ensuring Australia’s supply chains are robust and operating effectively. This will ultimately mean more products, delivered safely to communities across Australia.”