A panel comprising leading Australian retail, legal and political experts stimulated lively discussion at the Cairns Convention Centre today, as the contentious topic of the Retail Code of Conduct was considered.

“With an estimated 80 per cent of Australian vegetables distributed through the major supermarkets, the relationship between growers and retailers is critical to the vegetable industry’s everyday operations,” said AUSVEG Public Affairs Manager, William Churchill.

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

Australia’s two largest grocery retailers, Coles and Woolworths, reached an agreement with the food manufacturing industry on a voluntary code in late 2013. Although it contains assurances for both suppliers and retailers, the code is by definition voluntary, which has raised issues surrounding conflict resolution for suppliers and retailers.

“With many of Australia’s vegetable growers supplying the major retailers, this panel was of great interest to Convention attendees and evoked differing views from both panelists and audience members alike,” said Mr Churchill.

Members of the panel included Senator John Madigan of the Democratic Labour Party, Mr Chris Mara – Government and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Coles, Mr Christopher Preston – Director, Legal and Regulatory, Australian Food and Grocery Council, and Mr Warren Scott – Partner, Mills Oakley Lawyers.

“The panelists touched on matters including the code’s affect on growers, its efficacy over the previous system, and whether it affected smaller grocery retailers such as IGA or Aldi, and provided growers and other members of the horticultural supply chain with an informative perspective into how the new code of conduct will impact their businesses,” said Mr Churchill.

The event was proudly supported by Kalfresh. Kalfresh is a fresh produce business which grows, packs and markets fresh vegetables for customers in Queensland, Australia and overseas.

The AUSVEG National Convention, Trade Show and Awards for Excellence is the biggest event in Australian horticulture, with over 1,000 delegates attending this year’s event in Cairns.

For photos of speakers, please contact the AUSVEG media contact below.

MEDIA CONTACT: William Churchill, AUSVEG Communications and Public Affairs Manager. Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0411 166 748, Email: william.churchill@ausveg.com.au.