A Government review into the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) should look at extending the role to cover more of the supply chain, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has said.
This follows an announcement that the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has agreed to launch an industry call for evidence of unfair trading practices, alongside the statutory review of the GCA role.
The GCA came into force in June 2013 with a remit to enforce the Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) covering just the 10 biggest UK retailers.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “The GCA plays an important role within the grocery sector and we must recognise the success Christine Tacon, the GCA, has achieved within the retailer sector over the last three years.
“The GCA’s recent survey results showed 62 per cent of suppliers had experienced an issue with the GSCOP code, compared to 79 per cent in 2014. There has also been a significant increase of written supply agreements in place over the last 3 years, rising by 12 per cent since 2014.
“The NFU believes the power of the GCA’s presence has enabled this change and therefore this way of working now needs to be replicated throughout the whole supply chain.
“Sustainability, risk management and volatility management must be the food supply chains core principles for British farming businesses to thrive. Unfair trading practices limit these principles of success and leads to smaller parties like our British farmers, losing out. This must stop.
“We would like to see agri-sector voluntary codes of practice, such as the Dairy and Livestock Voluntary Code, made compulsory and overseen by the GCA to give them more teeth. This will give primary producers the confidence that the supply chain is not abusing their buying power and position over that of the British farmer.
“The NFU is also calling for the Ornamental sector to be brought under the GSCOP legislation and for the turnover threshold to be reduced to widen the scope of businesses regulated by the code and adjudicator.
“British farming is the bedrock of the food and drink industry – worth £108 billion – providing jobs for 3.9 million people growing the raw ingredients for UK food and drink. We need to create a supply system which is fair, transparent and has benefits for everyone in the food chain.”