ALLEGATIONS of supermarkets bullying suppliers have come from every corner of the agriculture industry after the ACCC announced a probe.
The ACCC's probe will address allegations of "cliffing'', where suppliers are given an ultimatum to agree to tougher terms or lose shelf space.
New lobby group Farmer Power has claimed the investigation as a personal victory, posting on its Facebook page that it had come about after its movement for fair prices.
"This [investigation] has come about after a Farmer Power movement bringing awareness,'' the group posted on its facebook page.
Chairman Chris Gleeson said the investigation was important because the prices supermarkets paid for produce undermined the quality of Australian farming.
"Products such as milk, with great nutritional benefits, should be treated with more value,'' he said.
"Low prices have been a problem for a long time and show a lack of respect for what producers do,'' he said.
The ACCC last examined the grocery sector in 2008, when then chairman Graeme Samuel found no evidence of misuse of market power.
In March last year new chairman Rod Sims revealed the ACCC was prepared to speak confidentially with suppliers.
Last week Mr Sims told a Senate hearing that 50 suppliers had come forward in response to his offer of confidentiality.
- Bullying producers and suppliers into lower prices.
- Auctioning off shelf space.
- Punishing suppliers who don't agree to supermarket terms by cancelling agreed promotions at the last minute.
- Demanding up-front payments for participation in supply-chain schemes unlikely to benefit manufacturers.
- Persistant demands for additional payments.
- Penalties unrelated to grower fault.
- Threats to remove products from supermarket shelves if claims for extra payments or penalties were not paid.
"In the past when FGV has appeared before the ACCC and Senate committees, we related many instances but these were all second-hand as no supplier was willing to appear because of the risk of retribution,'' he said.
"Hearsay evidence is not admissible as evidence and the ACCC knows this. That is why Graeme Samuel stated there was no evidence in 2008,'' Mr Wilson said.
"Nothing has changed.
"This new investigation will only scratch the surface of the real cultural issues that suppliers must endure.''
Coles' owner Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said the supermarket had a "generally good'' relationship with its suppliers, but would always have robust but fair conversations and negotiations with them.
"That's appropriate because we're about providing the lowest prices that we can for our customers,'' he said.
A Woolworths spokesman said it had a strong focus on ensuring its business dealings were fair and lawful, while delivering low prices.
The ACCC said it could not provide further comment at this stage.