The brand behind many of Australia’s favorite ice creams, Peters, is being taken to Federal Court, accused of depriving consumers of potentially lower options and prices.
The lawsuit surrounds the sale of single-serve ice cream and frozen confectionery at gas stations and convenience stores across Australia.
Their product range includes Drumsticks, Maxibon, Icy Poles, Lifesavers, Billabong, and Connoisseur.
During this period from 2014 to 2019, Peters rejected multiple PFD requests to distribute competing ice cream products, the ACCC alleges.
Exclusive treatment is only illegal in Australia when it “substantially” reduces competition.
The ACCC alleges that this five-year contract effectively blocked competition because PFD was the only distributor capable of distributing single-wrap ice cream products to national gasoline and convenience retailers on a commercially viable basis.
“We allege that as a result of the deal and Peters’ conduct, other ice cream suppliers did not have a commercially viable way to distribute their single serve ice cream to national gasoline and convenience retailers,” said ACCC President Rod Sims. .
“We also allege that a substantial purpose of Peters in engaging in the conduct was to protect its market position from competitors.”
The Australasian Food Group (AFG), which operates as Peters, has denied the allegations in a written statement, saying it intends to “vigorously defend” any legal proceedings.
An AFG spokesperson told 9News that the company has had a close working relationship with PFD for three decades, often sharing distribution trucks, and established the exclusivity agreement to protect its confidential business information.
The spokesperson also noted that Peters distributes its own products to many regions, including the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and the distribution areas in question only represent a relatively small share of the domestic market, mainly in regional or smaller metropolitan areas. .
Australasian Food Group full statement:
AFG takes note of today’s announcement from the ACCC and intends to vigorously defend any proceedings. AFG is confident in its position and the arguments behind it. For many years there have been a plethora of commercially viable distribution options available for the delivery of ice cream products in Australia to gasoline and convenience retailers. Our position is that other manufacturers have not been prevented from supplying their products to retailers under AFG’s distribution agreements with PFD.