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
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
“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
“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
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.
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