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Australian price watchdog needs more ‘teeth’, says beef body

By Oscar Rousseau , 09-Jan-2017
Last updated on 09-Jan-2017 at 12:22 GMT2017-01-09T12:22:30Z

The ABA want Australian livestock producers to get a clear picture of prices across the meat supply chain
The ABA want Australian livestock producers to get a clear picture of prices across the meat supply chain

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should be given more powers to collect accurate data on the meat industry, the Australian Beef Association (ABA) has claimed.

ABA executive officer David Byard today (9 January) expressed his “utter disbelief” that the ACCC interim report on price transparency in Australia’s red meat sector had used data that was a decade old.

He called on retailers to supply more current data, otherwise efforts to provide transparent pricing across the supply chain would be frustrated.
 
Australian supermarket Coles supplied the data, which covers prices from 2007, said the ABA. It claimed meat producers received 54% of the retail price for meat, with processors picking up 15%, retail costs at 30% leaving a 3% margin for supermarkets.

'Erroneous and misleading'

“In my opinion, these figures were entirely erroneous and misleading,” said David Byard in a press statement. “Yet now it would appear that, because the two large supermarkets have refused to give evidence for this study on meat margins, the ACCC has chosen to use the old information once again.”

Byard said he wanted to see the ACCC “given teeth to do its job”. To achieve this, he called on Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s deputy prime minister and minister for agriculture, alongside treasurer Scott Morrison to grant the ACCC more powers to gather accurate data.

He admitted that the ACCC had “acknowledged its struggle” to obtain up-to-date information on the percentage breakdown of retail beef throughout the supply chain.

Price transparency concerns

The issue with out-of-date information is that the ABA fears the country’s livestock producers cannot get a clear picture of the state of play if the ACCC is unable to investigate price transparency concerns in the supply chain.

“The ACCC requires the power to make sure that everybody giving evidence can support that evidence, and if this doesn’t happen, we will end up with nothing more than expensive window dressing and a wasted exercise,” added Byard.

The ACCC interim report, published in October 2016, alleged a practice of “collusive and anti-competitive behaviour” in saleyard auctions as well as “serious shortcomings” in price reporting.

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