In line with the ACCC's new enforcement priorities, Peters Ice Cream has been penalised $12 million after admitting to engaging in exclusive dealing with a major transport provider.

Following the commencement of proceedings by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australasian Food Group (trading as Peters Ice Cream) has been penalised $12 million by the Federal Court for engaging in anti-competitive conduct.

Peters Ice Cream is a major manufacturer of single-wrapped ice cream and frozen confectionary products. Peters Ice Cream has historically partnered with PFD Food Services in order to transport these products.

The ACCC's allegations concerned an agreement between Peters Ice Cream and PFD for the supply of products to various Australian convenience and petrol retailers.

How did Peters Ice Cream engage in anti-competitive conduct?

The agreement, which operated from November 2014 to December 2019, required PFD to obtain Peters Ice Cream's consent to sell or distribute any single-wrapped ice cream or frozen confectionary products that competed with Peters Ice Cream's products in various regional areas throughout Australia.

Peters Ice Cream admitted that this amounted to exclusive dealing, which had the likely effect of substantially lessening competition in the market for the supply by manufacturers of single-wrapped ice cream and frozen confectionary products in Australia. This conduct constituted a contravention of section 47(1) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

In addition to imposing a $12 million penalty, the Federal Court ordered Peters Ice Cream to establish a compliance program and pay a $250,000 contribution to the ACCC's legal costs.

What does this mean for your business?

This case serves as an important reminder that the ACCC is actively pursuing matters in accordance with their compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022/23, which include targeting exclusive arrangements involving entities that possess market power.

Businesses should review their supply arrangements to ensure they do not contravene Australia's anti-competition laws.

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