The businesses allege that between 2000 and 2005, Amcor adopted anti-competitive strategies in its dealings within the cardboard box industry, including price-fixing and market sharing.
The ACCC is currently investigating Visy packaging over claims that it formed a price-fixing cartel with Amcor. However, Amcor escaped prosecution after being granted immunity by the ACCC in return for information about the alleged irregularities.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman is conducting the class action. It says Amcor imposed a price rise of between eight and 23 per cent on its customers.
This amounted to an estimated $700m in overcharges, and many small fruit and vegetable growers had gone broke under the financial pressure, the law firm says.
The law firm is endeavouring to recover some money for businesses that have suffered as a result. It estimates that the group members are looking at between $200m and $300m in damages.
It says it is important for anyone who bought boxes from either Amcor or Visy over the years to consider whether they have paid too much for boxes and to take action.
The main industries involved in the action include fruit and vegetable growers and people in the meat, milk, beer and wine market.
The law firm alleges that many people were afraid to speak out against Amcor, which, combined with Visy, had cornered up to 97 per cent of the market, effectively meaning there are only two cardboard-box manufacturing companies in Australia.
A date is being sought for a directions hearing into the class action as well as a response being sought from Amcor.