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Government Green Light for Grocery Ombudsman

NFU Scotland is delighted that the UK Government has accepted a Competition Commission recommendation and will establish an ombudsman to police the grocery supply chain in the UK.   Consultation on the shape and role of the body will commence next month.

The Union has been lobbying Westminster for an ombudsman since 2004 and firmly believes that its creation will deliver better transparency and fairness into the food sector and is in the best interests of producers, processors, retailers and, ultimately, consumers.

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said:

“The creation of an Ombudsman to oversee the grocery supply chain has been a priority for the Union for six long years, and its is gratifying that our concerted lobbying effort working alongside several like-minded organisations is now on the brink of reaching the desired outcome.

“Many food supply chains work well and the winners are the consumers, the producers and all parties in between.   It is when relationships break down, that the problems start.    Here in the UK, the Competition Commission recognised the need for a check in the system and the current UK Government, with this announcement, has accepted that recommendation.

“It was always our firm belief that if the UK Government wished to protect the interests of consumers, the food industry and supermarket suppliers, they had to legislate to set up the ombudsman.  Without an independent policeman, the strengthened supermarket code of practice that comes into force in February would be of very little value indeed.

“It is no secret that most major retailers have been dragging their heels on this issue and they have heaped disrepute on their sector by doing so. With the announcement, I hope they accept that a more open and transparent approach to how they go about the business of securing food for their stores will reassure those farmers who produce that food and those consumers who buy it. 

“With a General Election looming, it is important that whatever shape the next Government takes, the momentum behind the creation of a supermarket ombudsman must not be lost.   Europe is also looking hard at how it can promote sustainable and market-based relationships between stakeholders in the food supply chain.   The creation of an ombudsman in the UK will ensure fair play in the UK food production sector as well as setting the tone for Europe when it comes to delivering on these new EU objectives.

“Here in the UK, we have the most highly developed retail sector in Europe, if not the World.  Lessons learned here, backed by the creation of an ombudsman, will provide a useful platform on which the Commission can develop policies aimed at delivering more equitable supply chain arrangements across the whole of Europe.”      

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 06/10


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