UK: Plans to fine large supermarkets for serious breaches of Groceries Code welcomed
Large supermarkets who deal with suppliers unfairly could be fined by the new Groceries Code Adjudicator, which is being given greater powers to enforce the Groceries Code, Competition Minister Jo Swinson has announced.
In a change welcomed by Suffolk-based local food campaigner Caroline Cranbrook, the Government said it had listened to concerns from stakeholders to give the adjudicator more teeth to protect suppliers from unfair treatment.
The adjudicator will be able to apply a range of sanctions from ‘naming and shaming to fines, if retailers are found to be breaching the Groceries Code and treating their suppliers unlawfully or unfairly.
Jo Swinson said: “The food industry plays an important role in economic growth, and the Groceries Code Adjudicator will help to ensure that the market is operating in a fair and healthy way. Large supermarkets form a big chunk of this industry, and generally provide consumers with low prices and variety whilst providing business for farmers and suppliers.
“But where supermarkets are breaking the rules with suppliers and treating them unfairly, the Adjudicator will make sure that they are held to account. We have heard the views of the stakeholders who were keen to give the adjudicator a power to fine, and recognise that this change would give the adjudicator more teeth to enforce the Groceries Code.
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“We expect fines to be used as a last resort, but the fact that the Adjudicator has the power to impose them will send a strong message to retailers that compliance with the Code is not optional. I am confident that these changes will mean that the Adjudicator is able to ensure fair play in the food supply chain and keep the industry growing.”
Lady Cranbrook welcomed the change.
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“It has been a long struggle to achieve this and the many organisations which have come together under the leadership of Andrew George MP are to be congratulated. Patience, energy and conviction have been rewarded,” she said.