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Stackyard News Feb 08

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Supermarket Policeman a Step Closer to Reality

The campaign by Scotland’s farming union and others for the introduction of an independent supermarket adjudicator is close to paying off, according to the Union.


NFU Scotland has welcomed the publication today of the Competition Commission’s proposed action, as the two-year long inquiry into the big supermarkets nears its end. Amongst the suggested remedies is the introduction of a supermarket adjudicator.

NFUS began campaigning for the establishment of an independent policeman, to ensure fair trade between supermarkets and their suppliers, in 2004. The Union has been arguing vociferously that the OFT’s Supermarket Code of Practice, introduced in 2003 and designed to protect suppliers from exploitation, has been completely ineffective because suppliers are too afraid to complain of mistreatment. Hence NFUS, together with a coalition* of organisations, is proposing an independent adjudicator to proactively police a strengthened the Code.

NFUS Deputy Chief Executive James Withers said:

“We have spent three years working on this issue and we’re delighted to see the Competition Commission now proposing the supermarket adjudicator we have been pressing for.

“This has been a highly sensitive issue, but we’ve been able to work with suppliers to provide confidential dossiers of evidence to show the Competition Commission the kind of anti-competitive trading practices that some suppliers have been forced to deal with.

“Our campaign is not about protecting farmers or anyone else from tough competition. This is about ensuring fair trade in the UK food supply chain and, ultimately, about protecting consumer interests. The totally unacceptable demands by some supermarkets for lump sum payments and the promotional costs being forced on to suppliers are all part of a destructive squeeze on suppliers. And it is a squeeze that is jeopardising the future supply of local, quality food at a time when consumers have never been more in demand of it.

“It is time the major supermarkets reacted more positively to the idea of an independent policeman. Given all the warm words and glossy literature we see from them about their corporate social responsibility, what exactly is the problem with the introduction of an independent adjudicator to oversee their relationship with suppliers?”

Last August a cross-cutting group of organisations, chaired by Andrew George MP, presented proposals to the Competition Commission for an independent supermarket adjudicator. The group comprises ActionAid UK, Association of Convenience Stores, Association of Master Bakers, Banana Link, Breaking the Armlock Alliance, British Brands Group, British Independent Fruit Grower’s Association, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Country Land and Business Association, Food Access Network, Friends of the Earth, Graydon UK, National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, National Farmers Union Scotland, nef, Rural Shops Alliance.

link Supermarket Ombudsman will be Good for Consumers
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NFU Scotland