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Stackyard News Sep 06

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    Farm Union Addresses Major Supermarket Conference

Scotland’s farm union has told delegates at a major conference in Edinburgh today that action to curb the power of supermarkets is essential to protect consumers.


The Conference marks the start of a highly significant week for the country’s food industry as the Competition Commission is visiting Scotland to take evidence as part of its grocery market investigation. NFUS has a hearing with the Commission on Wednesday where it will outline in more detail the steps required to protect consumers and food industry from anti-competitive supermarket practices.

NFUS has stressed that farmers do not fear a tough and competitive trading environment. However, the frequent abuse of power by supermarkets is financially crippling major food and drink processors and the farms supplying them. Ultimately, consumers will suffer as a result of lower product choice, availability and innovation.

Addressing delegates, NFUS Deputy Chief Executive James Withers said:

“The farming industry is not against big business, nor anti-supermarket – after all, supermarkets are our biggest customers selling three quarters of all we produce. However, we are against abuse of power and, if left unchecked, not only will the farming and food industry suffer, but consumers will be big losers.

“There some excellent examples of relationships between supermarkets and their suppliers, which benefit every link in the supply chain from farmer to consumer. However, for every example we hear of a relationship built on trust and transparency, there is another based on fear and exploitation. Demands from supermarkets for lump sum payments and the imposition, without negotiation, of unfair trading terms is totally unacceptable.

“It is not scaremongering to suggest that the UK food industry could suffer irreparable damage unless the mistreatment of supermarket is addressed. At a time when consumers are increasingly demanding local food and drink, produced to the highest standards, the suppliers of those products are facing anti-competitive trading terms which jeopardise their future. That is the very definition of market not working in the best interests of consumers.

“I have no doubt that consumers have benefited enormously from the supermarket revolution over the last 20 years. But will we be saying the same thing in 10 years time? Unless there is action now, the answer is undoubtedly no.

“We are not asking the Competition Commission for any special favours, nor protection from tough competition. We simply need a market which rewards those who can meet consumer demand – that is essential to protect product choice and innovation, and therefore to protect consumer interests.”

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