ACCC to put Woolworths under the microscope

6 January 2015 | Supermarket giant feels the heat from the regulator after complaints from suppliers

Woolworths feels the heat from the ACCC

Supermarket giant Woolworths has found itself at the centre of the ACCC's attention, with news that the consumer watchdog will examine complaints lodged by suppliers.

The ACCC said it has received recent complaints from Woolworths' suppliers, which it is currently examining.

The scrutiny comes after it was alleged that suppliers were sent bills claiming that they had charged the supermarket the wrong amount or quantity, some of which were backdated by several years.

"We have received complaints about supermarket supplier issues which we will consider," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

Sims also encouraged other suppliers to contact the regulator with information, even if it is anonymously, "by calling our info centre and requesting to speak to a senior manager involved in supermarket supplier investigations".

With fellow supermarket giant Coles receiving a record fine of $10 million for 'unconscionable conduct in its dealings with suppliers' in late December, the ACCC continues its scrutiny of supermarkets, which CHOICE covered extensively in the CHOICE supermarket investigation. We revealed many instances of dodgy dealings between supermarkets and local suppliers.

Research conducted by CHOICE in 2012 revealed that 93% of the surveyed members said that where their food comes from is crucial or important to them and a further 95% said that when they buy Australian food it's because they want to support Australian companies and keep the profits in Australia. More recently, we were flooded by complaints from unhappy consumers following the news of the Coles fine, so it appears that plenty of consumers are putting ethical purchasing decisions ahead of price and convenience.

And with both supermarket giants increasingly under the ACCC microscope, 2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year for concerned consumers and the grocery duopoly.