Parliamentary symposium considers the case for supermarket ombudsman

Andrew George MP has hosted a Parliamentary symposium on the Competition Commission's recommendation to create a supermarket ombudsman to put pressure on ministers.

As Grower went to press this week, ministers were due to announce their response to the recommendation. MPs, farmers' unions, NGOs and business groups attended the meeting in Westminster - where NFU head of government affairs Terry Jones said that the horticultural sector has the greatest need for an ombudsman because of growers' poor returns from supermarkets.

He said: "We need this recommendation as a matter of urgency. Consumers won't thank us if they cannot buy English products."

George said: "It is now time for the Government to accept or reject the case for a supermarket ombudsman. An independent ombudsman will benefit consumers, farmers and our small-business sector."

Meanwhile, a European Commission report published last week reiterated the findings of the Competition Commission report as it identified the need for:

  • the promotion of sustainable and market-based relationships between stakeholders in the food supply chain;
  • increasing transparency to encourage competition and improve its resilience to price volatility;
  • fostering the integration and competitiveness of the European food supply chain across EU member states.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: "This report echoes comments made by both the NFU and the Competition Commission about the problems in the supply chain and some of the actions that need to be taken to solve them.

"The recognition of the need to draw up [European] Community measures seeking to ban unfair contractual practices within the internal market and facilitating enforcement against such practices is especially welcome."

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