1 November 2001
Supermarket code disappoints farmers

By Isabel Davies

A NEW code of practice designed to govern the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers is deeply disappointing, say farmers.

Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt approved the code – seven months after her department received it from the Office of Fair Trading.

Mrs Hewitt said the code would will help redress the balance between supermarkets and their suppliers.

It will give suppliers greater certainty and security, by putting contractual relations with supermarkets on a clearer and more predictable basis.”

But the National Farmers Union said the code was flawed and ambiguous.

It could still be open to wide interpretation by retailers especially in areas such as changes to prices and payments and consumer complaints.

NFU president Ben Gill said: “It is a recipe for dispute which is precisely what we intended to avoid.

To have this is bad enough but to have had to wait seven months is an insult to an industry already under intolerable pressure.”

Many thousands of farmers and growers who do not supply supermarkets would not even have the very limited protection it afforded, said Mr Gill.

“As it stands at the moment, the code will do little if nothing to reassure our members, he added.

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