By Aimee Chanthadavong

Aldi has argued against taking any steps to sign the food and grocery code of conduct until it receives feedback from the Australian government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

As reported by The Australian Financial Review, head of Woolworths Tjeerd Jegen has alleged the German-owned rival has products that are similar to some national brands, such as Bundaberg ginger beer, Procter & Gamble's Pantene shampoo, General Mills's Old El Paso taco kits and Kellogg's Special K, which infringes on the intellectual property of these suppliers.

"One of our major competitors has 96 percent of their range that is own-brand," he said. "If you don't look carefully, you'd think it came from suppliers' brands."

Last month, Coles, Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) signed a draft voluntary industry code of conduct that will govern the retailer-supplier trading relationship, including prohibiting retailers from using suppliers’ intellectual property to develop private label products.

However, an Aldi spokesperson has told RetailBiz the Code does not necessarily apply to the company because its business model and approach to supplier relationships differ to Woolworths and Coles – the two supermarket giants in which the code was specifically designed to apply to.

“In principle we support the concept of signing an industry Code which ensures a sustainable future for Australian growers and manufacturers,” the spokesperson said.

“However, we will await the feedback from the Australian Government and the ACCC and provide input during the public consultation period that follows in the New Year.”

Aldi also reassured all of its suppliers have the benefit of existing intellectual property laws in relation to their brands.

“In terms of recent comments regarding intellectual property and our exclusive brands, the reality is that consumers know the high quality and low cost of our everyday range of products. There is no possibility of confusion at Aldi,” the Aldi spokesperson said.

“Alid has a unique business model that creates brands in partnership with our suppliers. We ensure we carry out due diligence when developing the style guide and packaging of all of our products and labels.

“We take market cues on labelling and branding to give customers a clear reference guide. For example, freeze dried decaffeinated coffee traditionally sports a red colour scheme, the majority of margarine packaging is yellow and so on.”