Supermarkets to work together to ensure grocery supply

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Supermarket operators will be able to coordinate with each other to ensure consumers have reliable and fair access to groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) granted interim permission to the arrangement.

The interim authorisation will allow supermarkets to coordinate with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers.

The purpose of this is to ensure the supply and the fair and equitable distribution of fresh food, groceries, and other household items to Australian consumers, including those who are vulnerable or live in rural and remote areas.

The authorisation allows a range of coordinated activities but does not allow supermarkets to agree on retail prices for products.

“Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“This is essentially due to unnecessary panic buying, and the logistics challenge this presents, rather than an underlying supply problem.

“We recognise and appreciate that individual supermarket chains have already taken a number of important steps to mitigate the many issues caused by panic buying. We believe allowing these businesses to work together to discuss further solutions is appropriate and necessary at this time,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC granted interim authorisation on Monday afternoon, after receiving the application last Friday.

“We have worked very swiftly to consider this interim authorisation application, because of the urgency of the situation, and its impact on Australian consumers,” Mr Sims said.

The Department of Home Affairs has convened a supermarket taskforce, which meets regularly to resolve issues affecting supermarkets. 

Representatives from government departments, supermarkets, the grocery supply chain and the ACCC are on the taskforce. 

The interim authorisation applies to agreements made as a result of taskforce recommendations.

This authorisation applies to Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash. It will also apply to any other grocery retailer wishing to participate. 

Grocery retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and transport groups can choose to opt out of any arrangements.

Coles has also announced that it is changing its community shopping hours, with less time available to vulnerable and elderly shoppers. 

Starting this Thursday 26 March, the first hour of trade on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be for emergency services and healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital and ambulance staff, police, firefighters and emergency service workers who hold an AHPRA card, have a workplace ID or are wearing their work uniform.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday Coles community hours will continue to be dedicated to vulnerable and elderly customers who hold a government-issued Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Companion Card, Seniors Card, Disability Card and Health Care Card.

Have you been able to access essential supplies? What items are you still finding it difficult to source?

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Written by Ben

61 Comments

Total Comments: 61
  1. 0
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    Coles is doing a great job helping our doctors and nurses!!!

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      I went in to Coles this morning, and the toilet paper shelves were full, hand towels not quite so much, but they have set limits on the number of items you can purchase.. Good thing too

  2. 0
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    Woolworths laid off 8000 workers at this very difficult time. Shame on woolworths!!!

    • 0
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      Coles have done the same in their pubs.

      They both however have been hiring lots of people to stack their shelves and offered this to their pub staff.

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      I don’t it was their supermarket employees. Word has it that it’s their allied businesses related to pubs and gaming.

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      Woolworth shutdown is for the pubs and clubs they own as per Govt restrictions.

      Retiring Well, you are correct, they are are offering supermarket jobs to those affected by the shutdowns.

  3. 0
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    I have my doubts, about supply I do not believe they cannot keep up with demand for essential items, they are part of the reason for the panic, keeping stock low. If stock was always there panic buying would have stopped by now….

    I mean stores that have no toilet paper deliveries for a few days and frozen food geesus

    • 0
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      Your kidding aren’t you. If there was no panic buying there would be the usual stock in the supermarkets. Previously they would have had toilet paper deliveries to supermarkets probably once a week. They cant suddenly change it to daily because there isn’t enough trucks or it will take the space of other essentials that wont be able to be delivered. Once everyone stops panic buying the shelves will be full but there will be no demand because idiots have already stockpiled.

    • 0
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      The supermarkets love it for there shareholders…..

      There new motto is treat the customer lean and mean and keep the stock low for the demand…….

    • 0
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      Panos, what rubbish!

      The main reason for shortages was due to delivery restrictions imposed by Local Councils.

      Those restrictions have been lifted in the short term. Also hampering deliveries has been the low numbers of trucks and drivers available. Remember drivers are subject to Federal restrictions on the number of hours they can be on the road.

    • 0
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      Panos, I don’t know where you get the idea that supermarkets and their shareholders are loving it. All we have seen happen is the hoarders have bought up stocks now at the expense of future (more orderly) sales and put their logistics operations under pressure to make them less efficient.

  4. 0
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    I have been shopping with Coles forever, but can’t even get them to talk via the customer service line for online ordering for vulnerable people – just get a message that they have no more space for any more and to hang up now!
    Also couldn’t send feedback as that line would not allow comments to “submit”
    At least Woolworths have a form on their website so I could apply for priority online ordering.
    Looks like Coles have lost a customer and Woolworths have gained one even if I don’t get accepted for priority

    • 0
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      Belle, I rarely shop at Woolworths, usually Farmer Jacks, Aldi & Coles. I am waiting for Coles to set up their service. From their website: “New Coles Online Priority Service (COPS)
      We’re in the early stages of rolling out our new Coles Online Priority Service (COPS) and we’re looking to bring this service to as many vulnerable customers as possible, hopefully by the end of the week. Our priority is ensuring we can offer a good range of everyday grocery essentials with high availability to our customers who find it difficult to shop in-store. Please check back here for further updates on this home delivery service, we’ll be making it available as soon as we can.” I haven’t registered for the Woolworths service yet, as I am OK at the moment, don’t want to overwhelm them. https://www.coles.com.au/customernotice

    • 0
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      I have auto immune issues and woolies have been terrific. they don’t always have everything but that is a logistic problem mainly caused by lack of common sense in customers and their greed and fear of maybe having to go without whatever it is they want right now.
      We have created a very entitled society unfortunately.

  5. 0
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    Be ok if Coles could actually get their shelves stocked. Went there at 7am last week – no meat AT ALL and fruit and vegetables looked like they were 3 days old. Went to Woollies and heaps more stuff on shelves, as did Aldi. Been to Coles twice since and same story. Won’t bother in future. Hit and miss with most things. If you can’t get at one store just have to try another.

  6. 0
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    At Coles this morning.
    Essential cleaning items all gone. Pump soap and wipes were unavailable.
    How seriously is this being taken?
    Last week 3000 people were let off a cruise ship in Sydney to wreak havoc across the country.
    Fortunately it seem that medications currently used for other illnesses are proving successful is stopping this infection in tests on people in the US and France. Hopefully production of these medications can be ramped up quickly and approval for their use for COVID gained promptly.

  7. 0
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    There is no better time for idiots to post nasty messages. If idiots would not have bought toilet papers to last and army for a decade and if idiots would not have massed in drunken mobs, life would be a lot better and a million people would still have a job. No, a few idiots make life hard for all.

    • 0
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      True. No panic, no empty shelfs in supermarkets. No panic, supply remains normal, consumer purchasing remains normal…Alas, no primitive mindsets would make this world a better place to live in…

    • 0
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      Yes it looks like we have induced our own emergency through panic and selfishness.
      I hope those responsible find comfort at night by hugging their toilet rolls tightly againat their chests in bed.
      Mass hysteria has struck again. Why is everyone so fearfull?

  8. 0
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    Woolies has been superb. As a regular online customer I was horrified after being discharged from hospital to find all delivery days booked out for a week. But Woolies sent an email and questionnaire to regular customers to see if they should get preference. I replied with details that I was disabled and included my health card number. Within a day, I was happy to see all delivery windows were open to me.

  9. 0
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    The prices of popular fruit, veg and grocery items has risen in the last 3 weeks. Even Aldi should hang their head in shame. How awful to increase prices at this time.

    • 0
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      You are so right! I have been in W/Worth’s every second day for the last week! YES THE GREEDY BAR! There prices have gone very high on fruit for no reason than greed! I now shop at Aldo where I am at this time and much cheaper!

    • 0
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      Wait until all that money the government is about to throw at people arrives in banks. We’ll be lucky if we avoid hyperinflation and al our savings are wiped out.

      It’s been a real bitch being a saver lately.

    • 0
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      Just remember there is still a drought on and prices were predicted to rise even before the virus crisis as crops were low.

      What short memories you have.

  10. 0
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    Thought I’d take the opportunity to use the “seniors” shopping hour at Woolies from 7-8am. I arrived at 7.15 and looked at the shopping trolleys coming out and seen that no one seemed to have toilet paper.

    When I got inside I found there was no toilet paper, tissues, sanitiser or kitchen rolls. The meat department didn’t have much left and the freezer section was nearly empty. There was some bread available but not a lot. Pasta was nonexistant and only 8 bags of rice on the shelves.

    If their aim in this “seniors” hour is to help the more disadvantages people in the community then they are doing a lousy job of it. I got very little of what I went there for.

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