The Food and Grocery Code of Conduct is the voluntary manual meant to inform retailers and food and grocery sellers of the minimum standards of operational practice, which assumes that every exchange between the two parties is carried out in “good faith”. Good faith is a plural word, meaning different things to different parties and which suits an entity. However, for a fundamental definition of “good faith”, it is important to understand its underlying intent for the two parties.
Acting in good faith accounts for a behaviour which is transparent, eliminates all mistrustful inclinations, presents all facts and knowledge about the transaction without hesitation, gives due respect to and honours one another’s rights and entitlements. The two entities are required to act always as per the law relevant to their transaction, and do not misuse one’s superior position to weaken the stance of the other (Wilson, 2009). This infers that the parties are honouring each other’s commitments to a common goal, of serving the best products to the consumer, and likewise accept profits and losses as per their capabilities and market forces. No one of the party must terminate or disrupt unduly the process and profits of the other without a reasonable and acceptable explanation.
The voluntary nature of the “Food and Grocery Code of Conduct” is primarily accorded because it is a cause of four retailers only, and leaves out the rest. The iron of this issue is the one which is more surprising, because the government, even after becoming aware of the irregularities and misreporting of the financial statements of retailers is not including this as a permanent legislation enforceable on all retailers and food and grocery sellers. The voluntary formation of this code is by four companies, About Life, ALDI retailers, Coles, and Woolworths (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2017). The legislation is such that it applies only on those entities who voluntarily sign up for being included in the enforcement. This could be because the four retailers after forming a union or a syndicate could dictate the terms much better and keep exploiting the food and grocery sellers.
The government is not making it an enforceable legislation, because it does not see the need to include a separate governing mechanism for such food items and the sector as a whole. This could be termed as the government’s lack of will or a pro-capitalistic view which favours liberalism more than social inequality.