Sector angered by Government's rejection of enhanced groceries adjudicator's brief

The NFU has described as "inexplicable" the Government's decision to ignore recommendations on the role of an adjudicator within the draft Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

Two committees of MPs recommended giving additional powers to the adjudicator appointed to police the code. They proposed that the body be empowered to take evidence from representative bodies such as the NFU as well as whistle-blowers within retailers themselves, when deciding to launch an investigation into supermarket practices.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: "Giving the adjudicator the ability to fine retailers where it identifies breaches of the code, is vital to ensuring it has real teeth.

"However, having published the draft bill, the Government has now chosen to ignore MPs' most significant recommendations."

He continued: "At a time when retailers are engaging in another round of aggressive price cutting, it is more important than ever that we ensure they play fair with their suppliers, so they can continue to invest and innovate for the benefit of consumers and food producers.

"Sadly, as things stand the adjudicator will be badly hampered in its ability to do so, making it unfit for purpose. It is hard not to detect the dead hand of the retailers at play behind the Government's reticence to establish an effective regime to police the groceries code."

Kendall called for "a proper debate among all MPs to ensure the legislation is amended appropriately".

Call for action

"Allowing third party evidence, which would protect growers' identities, is key to the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill. As it stands, it won't do what we want it to do.

"Growers, if you give a damn about this issue, get a bit more vocal about it."

Sarah Pettitt, horticulture & potato board chairman, NFU

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