NFU Scotland has told MPs that the growing power of supermarkets
must be better policed in order to protect consumer interests.
Addressing a meeting attended by around 50 MPs in the House of Commons
last night, NFUS Deputy Chief Executive James Withers stressed that the
financial squeeze on the supply chain, driven by the major supermarkets,
was jeopardising the future supply of quality, local produce. The
unsustainable pressure on farmers and direct supermarket suppliers will
ultimately result in reduced consumer choice and less product innovation.
NFUS is encouraging MPs to make their voice heard during the current Competition
Commission (CC) supermarket investigation. Crucially, NFUS is asking
MPs to encourage supermarket suppliers in their constituencies to contact
the CC with their concerns, which can be treated in the strictest confidence.
Speaking after Wednesday night's briefing at Westminster, NFUS Deputy Chief
Executive James Withers said:
“We stressed to MPs of all parties that farmers are not afraid of
tough competition. However, at a time when consumers have never been
more interested in quality, local food, the supply chain is failing to reward
those producing it.
“Our campaign is not about being anti-supermarket, it is about ensuring
effective competition in the marketplace. Ultimately, that means protecting
consumer interests. Their interests are patently not being served
by abusive supermarket trading tactics, which may deliver short-term price
cuts but which are jeopardising long-term supply.
“We are convinced that a supermarket adjudicator is required to proactively
police a code of practice. MPs are clearly supportive of that.
“MPs can make their voice heard during the CC inquiry and can also
play a key role in encouraging understandably fearful suppliers to speak
up. NFUS is happy to speak confidentially to any suppliers about how
they can have their views heard without fear of commercial reprisals.”
- The briefing on Wednesday 28 February was hosted by Andrew
George MP and Jim Dowd MP. Also addressing MPs was TV
chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. The CH4 River Cottage presenter
stressed his concerns over the impact of increasing supermarket
power on the local food industry.
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