By Staff Writer

A new voluntary code of conduct is currently being finalised following negotiations between Woolworths, Coles and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

The code will govern the stakeholder’s interactions with one another, The Australian reported. It will be followed up with the creation of a dispute resolution body to reduce the industry’s attraction to regulatory and political claims. The body will resolve disputes before they come to the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC is currently investigating a number of allegations against the supermarket giants for misusing their market power to decrease competition and negotiate unsustainable low prices.

Woolworths chief executive Grant O’Brien told The Australian: "The next step once the code is in place is to have our own roundtable, which will be a forum where retailers and manufacturers can sit down and discuss things.”

The roundtable will include O’Brien, Coles chief executive Richard Goyder, AFGC chief Gary Dawson and supplier bodies such as the National Farmers Federation, who in March said they wanted a compulsory framework instead of a voluntary one.

“The next stage is to seek whether we go forward with the code. We’re confident in getting an outcome and we’ll continue to work with the retailers,” AFGC spokesperson James Matthews told RetailBiz.