As we all know, every relationship can become strained at some point in our lives, even after years of trust. The business world is no exception and at times growers and wholesalers do have disputes that they can’t always work out between themselves.
However, there is a solution provided. Fresh Markets Australia (FMA) facilitates a National Grower Hotline Service operating in each Central Market across Australia, specifically designed to investigate issues raised by growers and others who feel they have a grievance to be heard.
It's all confidential
The National Grower Hotline Service is confidential. With this in mind, only the necessary disclosures are made in the course of the investigation.
Level One: Independent Dispute Resolution Officer Investigation
All FMA Member complaints comprise a thorough investigation by a Disputes Resolution Officer, involving interviews with the complainant and the wholesaler. Wholesalers involved are requested to supply all necessary records and submit their processes to scrutiny.
Additional market information may be supplied by the relevant market inspection service, whose information may shed light on what the market was selling for at nominated times. That organisation can also supply comment on the quality of produce when asked to provide inspection reports.
Most cases are resolved at this level with successful outcomes. Recommendations are made to help avoid future difficulties occurring between the parties.
In rare situations, however, a complainant may choose to disagree with the outcome and recommendation.
Level Two: Other Option
Other options exist if a complaint remains unresolved. This includes using the procedure set out in Division 3 of the Horticulture Code of Conduct.
This level of resolution can be more costly as the investigation and mediation process can be more rigorous.
In general terms, we recommend that growers seek to resolve any disputes which they have under the Level One option. These alternatives do exist however, as does the further option of pursuing legal action.
Tips to remember
- Clearly present your case in a logical manner with the best paper evidence possible. This may include the use of consignment notes, documented discussions with the wholesaler and especially the Horticulture Produce Agreement (HPA) you have signed/accepted.
- Keep good records
- Finalise a HPA between yourself and the wholesaler that clearly set out each other’s expectations and keep a copy.
- Document discussions with your wholesaler/s
- Keep all text messages and emails
- Keep your consignment notes
- If you are unsure, seek clarification from the wholesaler to make sure that both parties are clear on any issues that arise.
A Dispute Resolution Officer will need this type of paperwork as the basis of their investigation. It is difficult to conduct an investigation without evidence so without it, your complaint may not be able to proceed.
Contact for further information
Brismark / Phone: 07 3915 4222 / Email: [email protected]
Newcastle Chamber / Phone: 02 4923 3700 / Email: [email protected]
South Australia Chamber / Phone: 08 8262 1122 / Email: [email protected]
FMA Secretariat / Phone: 07 3915 4222 / Email: [email protected]
Fresh State / Phone: 03 9408 6627 / Email: [email protected]
Freshmark / Phone: 02 9764 3244 / Email: [email protected]
Market West / Phone: 08 9455 2742 / Email: [email protected]