7 November 2001
Supermarket code flawed – Safeway

By Isabel Davies

SAFEWAY has conceded that there are flaws in the governments new code of practice governing the relationship between supermarkets and farmers.

Kevin Hawkins, communications director for Safeway, was speaking at a Food Standards Agency debate in London on Tuesday (6 November).

Mr Hawkins insisted that the legally binding code would improve the situation for suppliers, but acknowledged that contained gaps.

“It will make a difference to relations … it will help to formalise contracts and put everything in writing,” he said.

The code – which critics claim was sneaked out at short notice last week – has now come in for criticism from all sides.

National Farmers Union president Ben Gill was angered by the handling of its publication and wrote to Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

“We need to find a way ahead which is far more even-handed,” he wrote.

“The retailers are here to stay. We need an agreed proper trading relationship, and I fear that your decision will make progress much harder.”

Food campaigner Adrian Bebb from Friends of the Earth said the code would not protect small farmers.

“In short, it is not good enough. No wonder the government hopes that no-one will notice.”