The NSW Chamber of Fresh Produce Limited (Freshmark), in response to current media reports regarding price gouging by the larger supermarkets, reaffirms the importance of the central markets system’s role as a positive vehicle for growers to get a fair deal under the protection of the ACCC’s heavily governed Horticultural Code of Conduct that ensures equitable and transparent contractual pricing.
Freshmark CEO Meegan George says the concern of price gouging related to the major chains is not synonymous with the highly regulated and competitive central market systems that allow growers to trade with hundreds of wholesalers under the protection of the mandated contractual obligation of the Horticultural Code of Conduct (Code).
“The Code governs growers and agents and or merchants of fruit and vegetables with a written contract that includes how prices are calculated and when payment is made. Protection is the key to the Codes’ power for both parties improving the clarity and transparency of each transaction.
“Through the central markets system, growers have the peace of mind of the Code protecting them from unfair price practices, currently associated with the major chains which have their own voluntary code of conduct, whilst the central markets are governed under the watchful eye of the ACCC.
“Growers have the advantage of accessing hundreds of traders under one roof and therefore can negotiate competitive prices, whether they be variable or fixed, growers have a choice, which is not awarded them with the oligopolies.
“More importantly, our sector is driven by relationships that have existed intergenerationally, where trust and deep respect are paramount,” Mrs George said.
All distributors of fruit and vegetables have a duty of care to ensure Australia’s food safety and security are not compromised.
“As an essential service, the central market system’s collective resolve will maintain a fluid and flexible delivery to all local independent greengrocers. Our stakeholders’ focus is to ensure Australians have peace of mind that they will have unlimited and continuous access to food at a fair and reasonable price across the entire supply chain,” she said.
Pricing remains subject to market forces of supply and demand, which have been highly influenced by weather, transport, lack of pickers, augmented production costs, and floods. With inflation and the subsequent cost of living to rise, price sensitivities have become more pronounced and a focal point for the upcoming elections in May.
“The fresh produce industry, like many other industries, is experiencing price fluctuation that directly impacts the consumer’s back pocket. Although not all produce lines are affected equally, growers do have the power to negotiate a preferred price when using the central market system.
“The benefits of belonging to the central markets system allow growers to achieve a fair price that can positively affect the entire supply chain and consumer. With the current state of the economy, Freshmark encourages growers to take advantage of belonging to a system that promotes pricing clarity and fairness for the betterment of all Australians,” she concluded.