Supermarkets indulging in Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) who breathed a sigh of relief at last month’s feeble Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) report had better not get too comfortable, says MEP Alyn Smith.
The European Commission will publish a report on UTPs in the first half of next year, according to Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.
“The Commission has recognised that the voluntary ‘Supply Chain Initiative’ launched in September 2013 simply isn’t enough.
“Too many farmers are struggling – some have experienced a 37% increase in energy prices since 2007 – and the unfair power dynamic between suppliers and retailers is weighted heavily in favour of the latter.
“I'm all for supermarkets cutting prices. But our suppliers shouldn't be the ones who take the hit. Retrospective deductions, the threat of de-listing, demanding standards' compliance but at the suppliers' expense – these are all ways that UTPs are strangling farmers.
“The GCA was supposed to protect farmers but – largely thanks to the UK Government’s sluggish attitude towards granting the GCA the power to fine supermarkets – they’re a toothless tiger. Their own report last month showed that less than half of suppliers would raise an issue with them, and nearly three quarters of those cited fear of retribution from supermarkets as the reason.
“I’m pleased to see that the European Commission is still pushing to protect farmers and suppliers from UTPs – this will be a long, hard slog but, with the full backing of the EU on their side, I’m confident we’ll see a fair deal for farmers.”