The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is going after Peters for its single-wrapped ice cream racket in Aussie servos and convenience stores.
The consumer watch dog has begun Federal Court proceedings against Peters for anti-competitive behaviour.
Peters is responsible for brands such as Drumstick, Connoisseur, BillaBong and Maxibon.
I scream, you scream, the ACCC screams
The ACCC is alleging that between November 2014 and December 2019, Peters had an exclusive dealing with PFD Food Service for distribution of single-wrapped ice cream to petrol stations and convenience stores across the country.
A condition of this agreement was that PFD couldn’t sell competing products in certain locations. According to the ACCC, PFD requested permission to sell competing products and Peters rejected this on multiple occasions.
Further to this, the ACCC is arguing that PFD was the only company capable of distributing the products on a national level. As such, this agreement prevented other companies from distributing their own single-serve ice creams as they could not afford the cost of establishing their own networks.
“We allege that, as a result of the agreement and Peters’ conduct, other ice cream suppliers had no commercially viable way of distributing their single serve ice creams to national petrol and convenience retailers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.
“Our case is that the distribution agreement and Peters’ conduct effectively raised barriers of entry, which hindered or prevented potential new entry into the market to supply single serve ice cream products to petrol and convenience retailers.”
“We allege that this conduct reduced competition, and may have deprived ice cream lovers of a variety of choice or the benefit of lower prices when purchasing an ice cream at one of these stores,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC twitter account also offered further commentary from Sims.
“Companies need to compete by having better ice creams – not by excluding their competitors.”
"Companies need to compete by having better ice creams – not by excluding their competitors." – ACCC Chair, Rod Sims
— ACCC (@acccgovau) November 19, 2020
Peters will defend against the charges
Australasian Food Group Pty Ltd, which trades as Peters Ice Cream, plans on defending against the charges laid down by the ACCC.
“AFG notes today’s announcement by the ACCC and intends to vigorously defend any proceedings. AFG has confidence in its position and the arguments that support it,” a AFG spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“For many years there have been an extensive number of commercially viable distribution options available for the delivery of ice cream products around Australia to petrol and convenience retailers. It is our position that other manufacturers have not been prevented from supplying their products to retailers by virtue of AFG’s distribution arrangements with PFD.”
Things have since changed for Peters
According to the ACCC Peters has entered into a new agreement with PFD which no longer restricts the company from selling products from competitors.
In it proceedings agains Peters, the ACCC is seeking “declarations, pecuniary penalties, a compliance program order and costs.”
This story has been updated to include comment for AFG/Peters.