Tesco has criticised last Friday’s proposal from the Competition Commission to introduce an ombudsman to level the playing field between retailers and farmers.

The proposal, welcomed by the farming community, is a key part of the commission’s ongoing investigation into the power of the UK’s food retailers.

“Tesco considers that introducing a new ombudsman could be bureaucratic and an unnecessary cog in a supply chain which has worked well for consumers,” said Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the firm’s director for corporate and legal affairs.

“More red tape is likely to stifle innovation and investment and reduce the ability of retailers and suppliers to work together flexibly to deliver the best deals for customers,” she added.

“These remedies have been published for consultation and we will continue to discuss them with the Competition Commission during the remaining months of the inquiry to ensure the best outcome for consumers.

“They follow the CC’s provisional findings, less than four months ago, that the UK groceries market is delivering a good deal for consumers.”

Enhance supply chain relationships

NFU president Peter Kendall disagreed and said an ombudsman would enhance supply chain relationships.

“The recommendation for an ombudsman to enforce a new code of practice and deal with any disputes is welcome and we feel an independent board is still the best way to ensure an informed, transparent, decision-making process.

“It is in everyone’s interests that the food supply chain is vibrant, dynamic, transparent and profitable, so farmers and growers are able to supply the quality and choice consumers expect and deserve,” he said.