Battle continues over supermarket adjudicator

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King has slammed proposals to create an adjudicator to police the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCoP).

Delivering the annual City Food Lecture in the Guildhall, London, he described such a move as a constraint on business relationships. It would not be in consumers' interests, he argued.

But at the NFU conference on Tuesday, president Peter Kendall said: "I still hear stories that would shock consumers, particularly on the treatment of fresh produce suppliers. The retailers are all over Number 10 arguing that an adjudicator would be anti-business. But it's not having one that's anti-business."

Earlier, the NFU had restated its insistence on the creation of an adjudicator for the GSCoP, which came into force two years ago. Its head of government affairs Nick von Westenholz said: "We continue to hear of suppliers being squeezed ever tighter by the major supermarkets, damaging the long-term prospects of primary producers, as well as consumer interests."

He said the Commons could easily introduce a formal bill during the current Parliamentary session, enacting proposals laid out in a draft bill published last May that detailed how an adjudicator might operate. "This would mean an adjudicator could be up and running by the end of the year," he said.

A Department for Business, Innovation & Skills representative said the delay was caused by lack of parliamentary time.

Savvy shoppers - Looking for bargains

While the grocery sector is embracing new technology, the austere economic climate has also meant a return to the shopping behaviour of earlier generations, said Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King.

"We have seen what we term the savvy shopper - shopping little and often, making lists, wasting less and often shopping locally, just like our parents and grandparents used to do," he said. "Even the most well-off shopper wants to get a bargain and doesn't mind who knows it."

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