Important milestone for Supermarket Watchdog
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George – who also chairs the Grocery Market Action Group (GMAG) which has campaigned to protect smaller suppliers from supermarket “bully boy” tactics – has heralded the introduction of a Government Bill which will help to cut out unfair trading practices.
The Grocery Adjudicator Bill will be debated in the House of Commons today. This is the first stage of its route through both Houses of Parliament before a supermarket watchdog – Grocery Adjudicator – is expected to be up and running by the middle of next year.
Mr George has chaired the Grocery Market Action Group – which includes representatives from a wide range of campaign bodies and producer groups including the National Farmers Union, the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, Friends of the Earth, Action Aid, Traidcraft, National Farmers Union Scotland, British Brands Group and many others – since 2006. GMAG had collated evidence for a Competition Commission Inquiry which reported in 2008. The Competition authority had found that supermarkets had engaged in practices which “transferred risk and unexpected cost” to their supplier companies in a way which undermined their commercial viability, and to the detriment of innovation and product development.
Mr George said, “I congratulate the Government and the many organisations who have been pressing for this legislation for years. I for one have been pushing successive Governments for over a decade. This is a very important step forward, especially for farmers and growers who I believe have suffered at the hands of supermarket buying practices. Larger supermarkets which have built business through their effective use of market muscle have prospered through unacceptable abuse of their power. I know they have always disputed this, but the Competition Commission was unequivocal in its findings. If supermarkets have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear from this Adjudicator.
“It is important that the Government is able to proceed with this legislation as quickly as possible. We expect the Adjudicator to be appointed soon. It is therefore vital that the legislation is in place so that plans can proceed as early as possible in the New Year.”