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Judgement reserved on Coles charter

The proof of grocery giant Coles’ new Supplier Charter will be in the eating, growers say.

August 19, 2014 3:09am

The proof of grocery giant Coles’ new Supplier Charter will be in the eating, growers say.

Ardmona fruit grower and Coles supplier Rocky Varapodio sees the charter as a positive step.

‘‘Anything that can further strengthen the relationship between suppliers and Coles is a good thing,’’ Mr Varapodio said.

But Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said: ‘‘I’m optimistic that it’s a step in the right direction but I’m questioning if it will be effective.’’

He said growers were happy to work with a self-regulatory framework that was realistic and meaningful.

‘‘For the long-term future of both our businesses we need to have good transparency, so to have a structure in place that can deal with that will be well received,’’ Mr Wilson said.

Coles released its new supplier charter earlier this month and announced Jeff Kennett as its independent arbiter.

Former Victorian premier Mr Kennett will oversee the charter for three years and make final recommendations on complaint resolutions.

‘‘Kennett is a man of stature and knowledge and I’m confident that he is a good choice. But he is one person,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘It would be very sad to see a long queue of suppliers waiting to air their grievances.’’

Mr Kennett said on the record he hoped his services as an independent arbiter would rarely be called upon.

AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew White also said it was important the new supplier charter was successful.

‘‘Any attempts by supermarkets to improve relationships with their suppliers are welcome, however, we will be closely monitoring the implementation of the proposed framework to ensure that it is delivering effective outcomes for growers,’’ Mr White said.

‘‘We recognise also that the framework does not preclude parties raising complaints with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is an important avenue for growers to raise concerns.’’

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