Mark Hudson President of the Country Land and Business Association

 “Better returns will come only when we, as suppliers, take the initiative. We know the basics of what we need to do, but translating theory into practice is the difficult part.

 “Collective action is still part of the solution. Supplier groups should be going to the OFT for advice on how, not whether, to collaborate.

 “Being open about how our food is produced and where it comes from is essential. We will remain at the mercy of the supermarkets and miss out on a huge source of support if we leave the job of educating consumers to the big chains.

“The third challenge is to develop our own skills, new markets and new products, including in the food service sector. The review of the levy boards must enable this to happen.

“It should be obvious to the OFT that individual suppliers will not invoke the supermarket code of practice until they have a champion to take up their complaints.

“The CLA has proposed an independent ombudsman and unless the OFT comes up with a better idea, the government should take up the proposal.

“The OFT should also get to grips with the supermarkets as they devour the convenience stores. What is the OFT for if not to stop the destruction of diversity in the market?

“The government itself has three roles to play, as direct and indirect public procurer, as policy maker and as overall regulator.

 “The welcome announcement to increase funding for school dinners is a step on the way. The government should also embrace CAP payments as good value for money on behalf of the public.

 “Lastly, it has taken three OFT reports even to get this far. It needs to be far more decisive if it is to be the effective watchdog that consumers and suppliers need.”

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