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Stackyard News Jun 06

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    Holyrood Report Highlights Supermarket Concerns

Scotland's farming union has urged the Competition Commission to take on board a report published today a Holyrood committee which raises serious concerns over supermarket power.


The report by the Parliament's Environment and Rural Development Committee concludes that the system of regulating supermarkets is failing farmers, rural communities and consumers, echoing the concerns of NFU Scotland.

NFUS has praised MSPs for taking a detailed look at the growing concerns at how supermarkets operate. NFUS members lobbied hard for the Committee to undertake the inquiry and the Union presented written and oral evidence to MSPs, including evidence of how supermarkets misuse their power and flout the industry Code of Practice. MSPs fear that consumers will be denied access to quality Scottish food because of the squeeze on supermarket suppliers and farmers. Amongst a number of recommendations, MSPs urge the Competition Commission to strongly consider a strengthened Supermarket Code of Practice with independent enforcement, which NFUS has been campaigning on.

NFUS President John Kinnaird said:

"The presumption to date has been that the big retailers have been nothing but good news for consumers. However, this report makes it crystal clear that the short term drive for cheaper and cheaper food is jeopardising the future supply of quality Scottish food, with consumers set to pay the penalty in the long run. This report should be a wake up call for the competition authorities and the major supermarkets.

"I take my hat off to MSPs for delving in to this subject. They could easily have shirked this challenge given that competition issues are reserved, however, as we impressed upon them, the consequences of the destructive squeeze on the supply chain is being felt right across the country, particularly in rural communities.

"We have already told the Competition Commission in no uncertain terms that, in the absence of a meaningful Supermarket Code of Practice with independent and proactive enforcement, product quality and consumer choice is going to take a battering. That is exactly the message MSPs will now be giving the Competition Commission following its own inquiry.

"No-one in the Scottish farming industry is looking for special favours, simply a supply chain which rewards quality and treats suppliers with respect. Too often, relationships between supermarkets and their suppliers are shaped by fear and, at worst, exploitation. There are some good examples of supermarkets working well with suppliers to the benefit of everyone in the supply chain, but they should be the norm. The Supermarket Code was a laudable attempt to bring the supermarkets to heel but it has failed because suppliers are too scared to complain. Therefore, it must be strengthened and we need an independent auditor to police it. That would be a crucial first step to rebuilding trust in Scotland's food industry."

link Supermarket Price Pressure Will Hurt Consumers
link Buy Local Food and Fight Climate Change
link NFUS Urges Food Producers To Speak Out

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National Farmers' Union
NFU Scotland