Last week the Roundup urged members to read the ACCC Issues Paper published following an analysis of survey responses, recently compiled from winegrowers around the country.
This week, representatives of the three inland regions met with ACCC Director Nick Cooke and Senior Analyst Andrew Parnell to discuss:
- why it is that the ACCC has initiated this Market Study;
- what the key process will be from now; and
- key dates leading to a final report.
In response to the first discussion point, as to WHY the study was initiated, Nick and Andrew explained “The sector has been considered by a number of government reviews, including inquiries by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee in 2005 and in 2016. These inquiries considered competition, contracting practices and the effectiveness of the voluntary Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct (the Code).
“In 2016, the ACCC held six workshops in regional Australia focusing on understanding competition and fair trading issues in the horticulture and viticulture industries. The ACCC subsequently published a report outlining the issues raised during the workshops and broader engagement with the industries.
“In that report the ACCC committed to undertake further work on the issues identified as part of our focus on competition and fair trading issues in the agriculture sector.
“Competition and consumer issues in the agriculture sector, including a focus on analysis of the wine grape industry, are current ACCC priorities, as set out in our annual Compliance and Enforcement Policy.”
The process from here on will include consultation forums and submission from growers and winemakers.
The officers of the Commission stressed that all submission will be treated in strict confidence and have offered to travel to the region for private consultations. It is imperative for them to gain a thorough understanding of:
- the state of the competition between winemakers and any other purchasers of grapes when offering prices and the timing of such offers;
- bargaining power and risk allocation between growers and buyers;
- pricing and quality assessment;
- the relevance and effectiveness of the Code of Conduct; and
- the use of collective bargaining by growers.
Indicative time frames are:
November 2, 2018 – Final due date for initial submissions
November-December, 2018 – Further direct consultation, including forums
March, 2019 – Publication of draft findings
April, 2019 – End of consultation period on draft findings
June, 2019 – ACCC to publish final report
Riverland Wine will assist any members in clarifying the process and will liaise with Nick and Andrew, on a confidential basis if need be. Don’t hesitate to contact Chris Byrne 0419 555 001 if you want to discuss any aspect.