Farmers are benefitting from retail investment, says BRC
As the Government prepares to announce its supermarket/supplier adjudicator bill in next week's Queen's Speech, a new report from the British Retail Consortium has highlighted the ways in which the country's farmers are benefitting from retail investment in the food supply chain.
The BRC report, Retail and Farming - Investing in Our Futures, includes examples of collaborations which are boosting UK farmers' returns and helping them benefit from meeting customers' needs. Farmers are also being helped to reduce their costs and environmental impact.
The BRC said its evidence shows the mutually-beneficial relationships which help both consumers and these farmers are already in place. As the Groceries Code Adjudicator will only cover supermarkets' relationships with direct suppliers, The BRC said the code is unlikely to make any difference to the majority of farmers.
The organisation is arguing that suppliers already have extensive protection, including the right to independent arbitration, under the existing Groceries Supply Code of Practice. It said the Adjudicator will only serve to replicate this role and create additional, costly bureaucracy.
BRC Food Director, Andrew Opie, said: "As our evidence shows, UK food retailers are committed to working with everyone in the food supply chain, including farmers, to ensure that customers have reliable supplies of high quality, safe food, produced in ways that respect the planet, the producer and the animals involved.
"It makes sound business sense to have quality suppliers who are efficient and successful. What we have is collaboration not conflict.
"The Adjudicator will make no difference to most farmers because few deal directly with supermarkets. What will help them is supporting retail investment in the supply chain not diverting money to an expensive new bureaucracy.
"If the Government is determined to push ahead with its plans for a Groceries Code Adjudicator, it must keep the burden it imposes under control. My fear is a new body will be looking to make work and justify its existence, damaging the positive relationships retailers have established. The Adjudicator should only pursue specific complaints from companies which are directly involved. The costs of responding to fishing expeditions and complaints by third parties would just add costs and make it harder for retailers to keep shop prices down."
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