Food suppliers ‘must open up about retailer abuse’

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Food suppliers should be more open about about retailer malpractice, urges Christine Tacon
Food suppliers should be more open about about retailer malpractice, urges Christine Tacon

Related tags Better

Food and drink manufacturers need to be more honest about retailer malpractice if they want supply arrangements to improve, the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) has warned.

Suppliers were “finally opening up”​ but could still be “more forthcoming​” in coming forward with their issues with retailers, Christine Tacon claimed.

Writing in her Annual Report and Accounts for 2016–2017, published at the end of June, Tacon reassured suppliers’ that their identities would be protected. “Trade associations have an important role to play in this they could do more to assist the flow of information to my office,”​ she added.

Tacon’s concerns followed the publication of an annual GCA survey of direct suppliers that signalled an improvement in relations with retailers for the fourth year running.

Groceries Supply Code of Practice

The survey found 56% had experienced one or more issues related to the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCoP) over the past year, down from 62% in 2016 and the peak of 79% in 2014.

There had been a “gradual but continual increase​” in compliance with the GSCoP, said Tacon.However, she was not “relaxing her guard​” and promised to continue to press for change where problems were identified.

One example Tacon cited was delayed payments connected to ‘drop and drive’ – where deliveries are unloaded and then counted by retailers after drivers had left.

“I turned up the pressure on the retailers, advising them that I was going through my internal processes to decide whether to launch an investigation into the issue,”​ she said.

‘Turned up the pressure’

“Not surprisingly, this warning led to several retailers rapidly re-examining their practices on payments relating to disputed deliveries and proactively reporting to me what they were doing.”

Tacon identified four other issues in a new list of top-five concerns, three of which were considered ‘current’ – delay in payments, forecasting, and promotions. The other one, payments for better positioning, was being ‘monitored’ along with drop and drive.

Inaccuracies in forecasting still accounted for major supply chain costs and had a knock-on effect on non-GSCoP but equally important issues, such as food waste and import costs for suppliers, she claimed.

Tacon has agreed to remain GCA for another 12 months. Meanwhile, the future scope and remit of the role was still being considered by government.

Related topics Legal Supply Chain

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