Brisbane Markets Wholesalers are urged to become better acquainted with the Horticulture Code of Conduct (the Code) in the wake of the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), flagging an increase in compliance and enforcement audits in relation to the Code.
Following their Perishable Agricultural Goods Inquiry, the ACCC conducted audits and found that most wholesalers are complying with the requirement to trade under a Horticulture Produce Agreement (HPA), but identified that some are engaged in incorrect reporting practices.
The ACCC said they believed that the horticultural industry would benefit from further guidance and will release updated industry guidance in the coming months. Following this, the ACCC intends to conduct further audits and will strongly consider enforcement action if it identifies non-compliance.
Brisbane Markets Limited (BML) Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Young, said the ACCC’s announcement is a timely reminder for growers and wholesalers that they must have a written agreement in place before trading together and to comply with the terms agreed to by both parties, no matter how long and positive their relationships have been.
“As an industry, we must all stand by the law and work together toward the Code delivering greater clarity and transparency in our trading arrangements,” Mr Young said.
Mr Young said growers and wholesalers needed to:
- understand that traders and growers are required to have a HPA in place; and
- review, negotiate and agree to the terms of HPAs they have in place with parties they are doing business with.