Suppliers need training on the Groceries Code

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

The survey found Tesco to be the worst at following the Groceries Code
The survey found Tesco to be the worst at following the Groceries Code

Related tags Supermarket Tesco

Few supermarket suppliers are adequately trained in the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), limiting their ability to use the full force of the law that’s there to protect them against retailer mistreatment, it has been revealed.

According to the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon, reporting on the results of the GCA’s second industry survey last month (June), 71% of suppliers responding hadn’t been trained in the GSCOP. “In my meetings over the year, it has become increasingly clear that there has to be a major push to do more about being trained in the code,”​ she said.

“Retailer buyers are well-trained in the code, so for a supplier to challenge a requirement as non code-compliant, they need to know their rights,”​ Tacon added.

Tesco is the worst

Just over 1,100 manufacturers responded to the survey, which found Tesco to be the “worst at following the GSCOP”​. Some 13% of Tesco’s suppliers claimed the retailer rarely complied with the government-backed industry code, designed to protect manufacturers. However, Tesco said this was an improvement on last year.

The rating followed plans announced by Tesco boss Dave Lewis last year to turn the company around after a £263M accounting scandal, which prompted Tacon to launch her own investigation into Tesco’s treatment of its suppliers.

Admitted breaches

Tacon said her investigation was unlikely to be completed until the autumn. But Tesco had admitted to breaches of the code in its annual report earlier this year. Tesco said in a statement: “Suppliers are at the heart of our business and we’ve been working collaboratively with them to change the way in which we work. Since 2013, we have taken action to strengthen our compliance processes and have established a dedicated supplier helpline in the UK.”

Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union called for the GSCOP to be extended to cover the whole of the food and drink supply chain, rather than just retailers with a turnover of £1bn or more a year. Respondents to Food Manufacture’s​ 2015 ‘state-of-the-industry’ surve​y expressed a similar view.

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