Grocery abuse claims rejected by SOFHT boss

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Alan Lacey rejected claims that supermarket were abusing their power
Alan Lacey rejected claims that supermarket were abusing their power

Related tags Food manufacture Supermarket Food

Claims made by the independent Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon that alleged supermarket abuses of power were going under-reported have been refuted by an industry expert.

Alan Lacey, the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology’s (SOFHT’s) new chairman and Asda’s operations compliance manager, slammed Tacon’s claims and questioned her evidence.

Speaking to Food Manufacture in his capacity as SOFHT chairman, Lacey asked: “How the hell do you know how many unreported abuses of supermarket power there are?”

Retailers risked too much to be at odds with their suppliers especially now the price war between the four big retailers and the discounters had turned the industry on its head, Lacey claimed.

Work as an entity

“The food industry has to work as an entity; you can’t afford to have a bad relationship with your suppliers, and likewise with your customers,”​ he added.

However, the findings of a YouGov poll, published in June to mark the first year of the GCA being appointed, would appear to contradict Lacey’s claims. Almost 80% of suppliers responding to the survey claimed to have experienced problems covered by the Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

And in July, Food Manufacture’s​ State-of-the-industry survey also unearthed concerns among food manufacturers, that cited the supermarket price war as an increasing problem area.

More than 60% of manufacturers said pricing pressures from supermarkets prevented them from passing on cost increases. Some also complained about “underhand”​ practices by big retailers.

Alarmingly, 84% of manufacturers also raised concerns about their treatment by retailers, with some making claims of supermarket misbehaviour and bullying.

“Yet, there is still a reluctance to bring that evidence to me and to talk openly and specifically rather than anecdotally of potential breaches,”​ Tacon said in July.

Reports of alleged supermarket abuse had been going on for as long as Lacey could remember, he said. “I’ve been in the industry for decades and there’s always been something about screwing suppliers.

‘Don’t think there’s a problem’

“But, there are enough companies that want to supply supermarkets with products, despite all of the negative publicity. So I don't think there’s a problem,”​ Lacey claimed. It was too easy to attack retailers and claim businesses weren’t coming forward with information about supermarket abuses of power for fear of retribution, he added.

Lacey declined to comment on how effective he believed Tacon had been so far, but said supermarkets were committed to getting things right, while adapting to a changing market.

In July, Tacon wrote an exclusive article​ for setting out her perception of the scale of the challenges she faced.

Read Food Manufacture's full interview with Lacey​, published in this month's edition of our sister magazine.  

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast