The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has initiated federal court proceedings against Lactalis for alleged breaches of the Dairy Code. ACCC alleges Lactalis breached several provisions of the Code and by doing so, weakened the bargaining power of farmers who supply milk to them. ACCC claims Lactalis failed to make its milk supply agreements publicly available on their website by the deadline in 2020, instead requiring farmers to sign up to a mailing list to receive a copy of the agreements. This effectively reduced the transparency of the terms and conditions in Lactalis’ milk supply agreements during the “critical and limited timeframe farmers had to weigh their supply options.” Furthermore, the ACCC alleges Lactalis failed to publish genuine non-exclusive milk supply agreements and also failed to comply with the Code’s single document requirement by failing to provide farmers with all three documents that made up Lactalis’ milk supply agreement.
ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh stressed the importance of farmers having access to a complete record of milk supply agreements they have signed in order to safeguard against any subsequent changes to the agreement.