Melanie Leech, director of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We need an effective groceries code adjudicator to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice [GSCOP] and ensure suppliers have the confidence to come forward.
“The Competition Commission findings were clear that unless the abuse of market power is addressed then businesses, especially small- and medium-sized manufacturers will be less inclined to innovate and invest.”
It was vital that the adjudicator had the power to initiate investigations based on information received from trade associations and from the start of its operation is able to levy financial penalties, she said.
The Forum of Private Business also urged the government to ensure the groceries code adjudicator had the power to fine supermarkets that abuse their suppliers.
The group’s senior policy adviser, Alex Jackman, said: “Supermarkets nowadays are multi-billion-pound corporate giants driven by money. Frankly, anything less than an adjudicator with the power to take that money from them is simply going to be woefully inadequate.”
But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) claimed last week that retailers’ suppliers already “have extensive protection", including the right to independent arbitration, under the existing GSCOP.
“The adjudicator will replicate this role and create additional, costly bureaucracy,” it claimed.
Andrew Opie, BRC food director, said: “UK food retailers are committed to working with everyone in the food supply chain, including farmers, to ensure that customers have reliable supplies of high-quality, safe food, produced in ways that respect the planet, the producer and the animals involved.
“It makes sound business sense to have quality suppliers that are efficient and successful. What we have is collaboration not conflict.”