ACCC commences market study into winegrape industry

Winemakers may soon be under fire after concerns raised by grapegrowers have resulted in a new ACCC market study examining competition, contracting practices, transparency and risk allocation issues in the winegrape supply chain.

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said growers have highlighted the risks associated with their contracts, with many saying there is a lack of competition between buyers for their grapes.

“Some growers have also told us that they receive limited pricing information and are subject to opaque quality standards imposed by winemakers, which can have a major impact on prices they receive for their grapes.

“We want to get to the bottom of these concerns and, if necessary, make recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the market,” Keogh said.

The ACCC has released an issues paper and is seeking submissions on:

  • the level of competition between purchasers of winegrapes
  • bargaining power and risk allocation across the entire supply chain, particularly in relation to growers and winemakers
  • issues around price transparency and quality assessment
  • the nature of contracts between growers and winemakers (including the timing of price notifications and payments)
  • the effect of the existing voluntary industry Code and dispute resolution processes; and
  • the use of collective bargaining by growers.

The ACCC said it will accept submissions on a confidential or anonymous basis, acknowledging that some stakeholders may be concerned about adverse reactions from commercial partners if they speak to the ACCC.

“We want to hear from anyone involved in the industry from any side who has information relevant to this study,” Keogh said.

“If there are those who’d prefer to remain anonymous, our teams are used to handling sensitive, confidential information and we encourage people to get in touch — whether it is on or off the record.”

The ACCC will hold public forums in a number of winegrape growing areas to hear directly from interested stakeholders.

The ACCC will analyse information collected from submissions and forums and will publish draft findings for further comment, likely in the first quarter of 2019 with a final report before the end of June.

The issues paper and further information on the market study is available at: Wine grape market study.

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