The presentation to Parliament of a Draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill today (24 May 2011) represents another important milestone in ensuring fair supplier-retailer relationships within the groceries sector, NFU Scotland said today. 
The adjudicator’s primary role will be to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), which came into force in February 2010, and is intended to address imbalances within the supply chain. The Competition Commission report in April 2008 found that these imbalances were ultimately harming the long term interests of consumers.
Allan Bowie, NFU Scotland Vice-President, said;
“The detail of this draft bill will need to be read fully and digested, but this certainly represents another milestone in our long term goal of ensuring an effective policing body is established to enforce the rules of the Code of Practice. While the Code itself is laudable, it needs an effective body if it is to have a tangible effect.
“The primary driver for an adjudicator is about protecting consumers, not suppliers. The Competition Commission report from 2008 concluded that the current unfairness in supplier-retailer relationships adversely affects consumer choice, due to both reduced innovation and reduced investment by suppliers, and we are hopeful that this watchdog will have the teeth to rectify this dysfunctional dynamic.

“What we need to do now is get to the bottom of exactly how much power this adjudicator will have. To police the sector effectively, the adjudicator should be able to proactively seek out anomalies; they shouldn’t have to necessarily be presented to him.  Suppliers must also be able to report to the adjudicator confidentially and anonymously, to address the climate of fear that has prevented them doing so previously.  
“There have been suggestions from retailers that an adjudicator will result in increased prices to consumers, which is laughable. These large retailers make enough profit in a couple of hours of trading to cover the cost of an adjudicator for a whole year.  There is no reason why any additional costs to retailers can not be swallowed up in their sizeable margins. 
“While it is disappointing that it has taken several years to get to the point of a draft bill being brought before Parliament, this is certainly a welcome step that we hope will begin to address the obvious issues that exist within the groceries supply chain.”

Contact Wendy Fleming on 0131 472 4020

Date Published:

News Article No.: 88/11

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