MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The investigation into a surcharge imposed by GrainCorp on its customers has ended, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Dec. 20.

The surcharge had applied to customers outloading grain delivered by rail from GrainCorp’s upcountry storage and handling facilities to rival port terminals. GrainCorp removed the A$2.50 per tonne surcharge, effective Oct. 1.

The ACCC had been investigating whether the imposition of the surcharge increased the cost of sending grain to wheat ports operated by GrainCorp’s rivals and was anti-competitive, after industry participants raised concerns during the ACCC’s exemption assessment process for Port Kembla port terminals.

Given the scale of GrainCorp’s operations, the ACCC was concerned that the surcharge could affect competition along grain supply chains, particularly at a time when new entrants are establishing their facilities at Port Kembla and Newcastle.

 “The ACCC notes GrainCorp’s decision to remove the surcharge, and therefore does not intend to investigate this issue further,” said Mick Keogh, commissioner of the ACCC. “Discriminatory practices by large, vertically integrated organizations have the potential to distort competition in supply chains. The ACCC will continue to monitor the actions of major players in the grains industry, and throughout the agriculture sector, for possible anti-competitive conduct in agricultural supply chains.”

GrainCorp operates the largest network of grain port terminals and upcountry storage and handling facilities on the east coast of Australia.