BIFGA says supermarket ombudsman must be 'proactive'

The British Independent Fruit Growers' Association (BIFGA) has welcomed Competition Commission proposals to establish an ombudsman to arbitrate on retailer-supplier relations, but said this must be a proactive role if the top fruit industry is to gain the confidence to invest in its future.

BIFGA chairman John Breach told Grower: "This is the second commission in eight years to identify adverse competition so it's time something was done about it."

In an open letter to the commission's inquiry secretary, Breach said: "While welcoming your proposals, we believe they are really the absolute minimum needed to even begin to correct the imbalance between the buyer power of the larger retailers and the vulnerability of suppliers. This is especially true for primary producers who ... take virtually 100 per cent of the risks involved in growing, harvesting, storing, packing, and delivering the produce to distribution centres, yet receive only around 20 per cent of the (final) price paid.

"For any primary producer, the risk in producing an annual crop lasts for 365 days, whereas for retailers their risk in selling these crops ... lasts for just a few days."

He said supermarkets should not be allowed to water down the proposals set by the commission.

He added: "The supermarkets should have nothing to fear from the proposals - after all, if they are doing nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about. Indeed, we believe the proposals should go even further by giving the ombudsman a role more akin to that of a proactive, permanent regulator.

"It is very likely that primary producers will lack the confidence to bring complaints ... If it became generally known that inquiries were taking place, even those who were not contacted might feel 'safe' to contact the ombudsman direct.

"The climate of fear, however, is likely to persist until such time as the ombudsman has been able to demonstrate that he or she will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour by the retailers."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What challenges and opportunities lie in store for tomato growers?

What challenges and opportunities lie in store for tomato growers?

The British Tomato Growers Association (TGA) conference today (21 September) heard a range of perspectives on what changes lie in store for the sector and how to anticipate them.

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

As the British apple season begins, English Apples & Pears (EAP) is warning that growers will feel the effects of both a late frost in spring and also constrained labour supply.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon