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