FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS NEED MORE SCRUTINY AND TRANSPARENCY TO PROTECT CONSUMER INTERESTS
The Tenant Farmers Association’s National Chairman, James Gray, has called for a greater degree of regulation of food supply chains beyond the farm gate to ensure consumer demands are met.
Mr Gray will be addressing today’s Westminster Food and Nutrition Seminar on “The UK food supply chain: transparency, competition and the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator”.
“When surveyed, British consumers often articulate a desire to buy products of British origin which they know to have been produced on farm to high animal welfare and environmental standards in comparison to imported products. However they are often let down by the paucity of labelling within retail and food service outlets. This has got to change, along with the way in which processors and retailers use their dominant power against farmers and growers to extract maximum value from primary producers,” said Mr Gray.
“In the past, retailers have argued that consumers are only interested in price and that it was too difficult to produce effective labelling. However, initiatives like Morrisons Milk for Farmers dispel these claims. Consistently, 16% of Morrison shoppers are choosing to support farmers by purchasing the higher priced four pint product which sits alongside the lower priced product. We need more of this type of initiative,” said Mr Gray.
Mr Gray also argued that it was vital to move to a situation where all food sold through retail and food service outlets is required to meet minimum standards.
“Particularly in light of Brexit, farmers do not wish to be competing with producers who are using lower standards of production elsewhere in the world. Red Tractor seems to be a good basis for setting minimum standards but there does need to be reform of its governance and standard making procedures to ensure that standards are meaningful, practical to implement and derive benefits to all in the supply chain. Mandatory country of origin labelling would also assist in helping consumers to select higher quality, British products over lower quality imported products,” said Mr Gray.
Mr Gray argued that reform of the Groceries Code Adjudicator is a necessary part of securing sustainable supply chains.
“The Adjudicator has done a great job in bringing better practice in direct supply chain contracts with the biggest ten retailers. Its notable investigation into the poor practices at Tesco was a particular land mark. However, there is still poor practice further in the supply chain and the Government’s recent consultation looking at the possibility of extending the Adjudicator’s reach into the supply chain must be the right thing to do,” said Mr Gray.
The TFA argues that the Adjudicator should also have powers to carry out no notice checks on retailer compliance with the Groceries Code on individual lines or across all lines and to report on how much of the value in the supply chain is being taken by farmers, processors and retailers so that this can aid contract negotiations within the supply chain.
“The fact that retailers and processors will be having to look constantly over their shoulders and to open their books to scrutiny, will be a good thing to develop fairness within supply chains,” said Mr Gray.
Ref: MR 17/08 Date: 08 March 2017
Notes for Editors:
For further information contact James Gray on 07854 504185 or Harley Coles, TFA Communications and Events Co-ordinator on 0118 930 6130 or 07887 777157