National Farmers' Federation

NFF tills common ground on market reform

Representatives from along the fresh produce supply chain and independent experts will join a panel, hosted by the NFF Horticulture Council, to explore shared competition policy reform priorities and opportunities at the NFF Conference today.

The panel comprises spokespersons from the Australian Council of Trades Unions (ACTU), Apple and Pears Australia Ltd, Master Grocers of Australia and economic research institution e61.

NFF Horticulture Council Chair Jolyon Burnett said the panel proved there was an enormous amount of common ground shared between a range of stakeholders along the fresh produce supply chain, all with an interest in ensuring markets delivered fair and equitable returns to all participants.

“The case for competition policy reform remains as strong as ever. But as with anything, timing is critical and, on that front, a lot of things are lining up,” said Mr Burnett.

“Firstly, COVID brought the fragility of our supply chains into focus and showed unless returns were spread more evenly, then the earlier links in the chain would remain weak and prone to fail in the face of future shocks or disasters.

“And now, with food insecurity on the rise and inflationary pressures continue to mount, public awareness of market power imbalances and appetite among consumers and voters for competition reform is at an all-time high.

“Despite these things lining up, the difficult task of effecting reform, in the face of intense pressure from those most comfortable with the status quo, will require collaboration from interests across the economy including the public.

“Which is why we’re glad to be joined today, for what we hope will be only the start of a discussion about our shared policy priorities, by other groups representing interests along the fresh produce supply chain, from farm labour to independent retail, including the ACTU.”