Supermarket buyers continue to bully

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Related tags: Supermarket, Hypermarket

Attempts to keep overzealous buyers at the leading supermarkets in check in recent years have failed miserably, according to a new report from the...

Attempts to keep overzealous buyers at the leading supermarkets in check in recent years have failed miserably, according to a new report from the Competition Commission.

The Commission published a working document on supply chain practices in the food industry as part of its inquiry into the groceries market last month. The paper said retrospective price reductions, fines, demands for upfront payments and payment problems and delays, were still rife in the trade.

The widely derided supermarket code of practice, introduced in the wake of a previous investigation into the trade in 1999/2000, had not had any demonstrable impact on buyer behaviour, it said.

When asked whether things were getting better or worse in the previous 12 months, 58% of suppliers contacted said the frequency of retrospective price reductions had increased. A total of 53% said calls for obligatory contributions to retailers' marketing costs had increased; 37% claimed to have experienced more delays in receiving customer payments and 33% had experienced increased demands for listing fees.

In other contributions to the inquiry, Tesco insisted that it only sold a "small number of items" below cost. It rejected complaints that it was 'hoodwinking' consumers into believing that cheap tertiary pork and bacon brands sourced from overseas were British.

While such brands were not illegal, the British Pig Executive claimed that they were "disingenuous or even cynical", as consumers were frequently unaware that they were not buying British meat.

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