Supermarket Watchdog – Not before time!
An MP who has led a decade long campaign to protect farmers and growers from what he has described as the “bully boy behaviour of supermarket buyers” said he expects the Government to finally take action following an announcement in the Queen’s Speech next Wednesday.
Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Constituency of St Ives, chairs the Grocery Market Action Group which has pressed for action.
Mr George expects that the Government will proceed with a Grocery Code Adjudicator Bill soon after the Queen’s Speech.
The need for a supermarket watchdog was made clear in two reports by the Competition Commission published in 2000 and 2008. The reports found that big supermarkets were abusing their power in the market and were transferring ‘excessive risk and unexpected costs’ to farmers, growers, and suppliers. They warned that if action was not taken these practices would ‘have an adverse effect on investment and innovation in the supply chain, and ultimately on consumers’. New rules (Code of Practice) governing fair business practices in the supply chain were introduced in February 2010 but GMAG has frequently noted that unless the Government also act to create the watchdog there was no one in place to ensure the new rules are enforced.
Mr George has led the campaign for the creation of a supermarket watchdog since 2000. GMAG includes in its membership the National Farmers’ Union, the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, Friends of the Earth, ActionAid, Traidcraft, the Association of Convenience Stores, and others.
Commenting Mr George said:
“Every day that passes without Government beginning the process of creating a supermarket watchdog is another day too late for many farmers and growers. Farmers and growers have had a tough start to 2012. I welcome this. Though it is not before time!
“The progress of this long campaign has met with constant opposition from some of the large supermarkets but I think they should embrace this move – if they have nothing to hide then they will have nothing to fear.
“The code is fine. But it’s like having a game of rugby with a rule book, but no referee! So the code needs an Adjudicator. And I now want the Government to assure us that the Adjudicator can instigate and investigation on the basis of sound market intelligence and third party reports of improper activity. I remain optimistic that the Government will concede this point.”
Read an associated article here
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