7 April 2000
Supermarket code in place soon

By Alistair Driver

A CODE of practice designed to protect suppliers from the abuse of power by supermarkets could be in place by July.

The Institute of Grocery Distribution, which is facilitating the project, would not be drawn on a timetable for the code which was announced last week.

But the National Farmers Union expects things to move quickly and believes farm minister Nick Brown will report the progress of the code to Mr Blair.

“I expect the details of the code to be complete within a month and for it to be in place within a month or two after that,” said Helen Lo, NFU head of marketing.

Ms Lo said she could see no reason why the code should not be extended to take in the whole supply chain, including processors and abattoirs.

The code will ensure all partners in the supply chain are treated fairly, said a spokesman for the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

More specifically it will ensure terms and conditions between farmers, manufacturers and retailers are clearly understood.

It will also monitor formal and informal agreements and ensure reasonable notice is given regarding changes to terms and conditions.

The intention is for the code to be implemented by each supermarket independently, but it is not clear yet how it will be policed.

The code will initially have most impact on the horticulture sector, in which farmers deal directly with supermarkets.