Statement of Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
The Black Isle, Scotland – Yesterday‚ announcement that the UK will at last have a supermarket Ombudsman to curb the economic power of retail grocery stores and to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is welcome news for suppliers and consumers. We are pleased that the Ombudsman will be given the power to respond to anonymous complaints and we look forward to a tough response to the widespread non-competitive practices that have been used by supermarket chains.
“These large chains have continued to use their unfair market power in negotiations with suppliers and small producers. Resistance from both supermarkets and the British Retail Consortium to an Ombudsman demonstrates the continued desire to put their economic interests above the best interests of customers and the economy. It is time for the retail grocery companies to drop their opposition and work with the Ombudsman for everyone‚ benefit.
“We hope the Ombudsman vigorously takes up both the arbitration of disputes between supermarkets and their suppliers and proactively investigates complaints. We are especially hopeful that the “Big Four”, who grip a disproportionate share of the market and wield considerable power over family farmers, will be investigated and their practices curbed.
“Respect for the people who produce our food is long overdue, and we hope the new Ombudsman redresses the imbalances in the marketplace created by supermarket chains that punish small suppliers and farmers. This, in turn, should help end the race to the bottom caused when these small businesses are unable to thrive because every penny of their profit is squeezed out by the large retail grocery stores.
“Consumers should also celebrate having a champion to enforce the Code of Practice, hear complaints, and prevent the unethical practices that impact consumers. In the long term, this will result in higher quality food produced in a more sustainable way. Additionally, ethical retailers will be able to be profitable and not have to fear being driven out of business by unprincipled competitors.
For more information, visit http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/world/europe.
Eve Mitchell, Food and Water Europe, The Black Isle, Scotland, UK
Gabriella Zanzanaini, Food and Water Europe, Brussels
[email protected], +32488409662