The NFU wrote the code in the wake of a mass discarding of plants by nurseries who had seen reserves refused by retailers following poor weather in spring 2013.
Edibles producers have benefitted from the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) since 2009, which aims to make supermarkets treat suppliers fairly. NFU horticulture advisor Amy Gray spoke to the British Protected Ornamental Association recently on GSCOP and BPOA asked members for examples of breaches by retailers of contracts.
But Gray said ornamentals inclusion in GSCOP would take years of negotiation and was just a "long-term possibility", given that GSCOP took a decade to implement.
The original ornamentals grocery supply code, which encouraged growers and retailers to agree on 15 points, subject to variation, gained little traction with retailers, with only one supermarket engaging. The code was designed to formalise "gentlemen's agreements" to bring "greater transparency and fewer misunderstandings" between retailers and growers.
Gray said a renewed code for growers and retailers was needed "if there's bad weather over Easter for instance so you don't have to throw away plants. Having some sort of agreement and protection is very important".
Some growers had to discard unsold primroses this spring after poor weather. Gray has talked to HTA to "make sure everyone is included and treated fairly".
She said the original Code of Good Trading Practice was developed to help NFU ornamental grower members and "was not particularly for retailers" but is now "up for a review and we're keen to work with the HTA, with both sides included, to start to see if can gain interest in review of that document. I hope the HTA wants to get involved."
Voluntary code - better contracts for growers and retailers
• Long-term contracts.
• Certainty on prices.
• Specified termination notice periods.
• Clear contract variation terms.
• Reserves guaranteed unless agreed in writing.
• Payment within 30 days.
• Written financial penalties for non-compliance.
• Bilateral forward planning.
• Planned promotions.
• Agreed specification.
• Non-exclusivity contracts.
• Supplier investment clarity.
• Legislation compliance.
• Other terms.