The review covered the period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2019 and assessed the GCA’s performance based on evidence from a number of stakeholders.
In a foreword to the review, parliamentary under-secretary of state for small business, consumers and labour markets Paul Scully said, “The Government agrees with the overall evidence provided in response to the Review that there is still a need for the GCA to ensure Code compliance and encourage best practice.
“The Government will therefore maintain the GCA and ensure it is funded and Statutory Review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator 2016-2019 resourced to carry out its statutory functions under the Groceries Code Adjudicator Act 2013.”
National Farmers Union president Minette Batters welcomed the announcement and evidence that suggested there is still a need for the GCA in order to maintain retailer compliance with the Code.
“Since taking on the role in 2013, Christine Tacon has been essential in improving relationships between large retailers and their direct suppliers, ensuring regulated retailers are more accountable and honest in their dealings with their suppliers. This has helped the industry see a culture change that is driving fair and transparent supply chains,” she added.
“As we begin to leave the most disruptive period the food and farming sector has faced, it is critical that the next GCA continues to build on this excellent progress and we look forward to working closely with Christine’s successor.”
However, the review pointed out that some suppliers were still reluctant or unwilling to report issues to the GCA – despite an overall willingness increases compared to 2014.
Significant breeches reported
While the number of suppliers who reported a Code-related issue fell (41% of respondents), they still felt there were a significant number of breaches. As a result, respondents called for the GCA to demonstrate a willingness to take on supermarkets by greater use of its investigative powers.
The GCA planned to tackle these issues by launching the Code Confident campaign, which encourages suppliers to know the Code, get trained and speak up to the GCA and large retailers.
Paul Scully added: “The views and comments expressed clearly show that the GCA is a valued and trusted body which continues to make a real difference to the groceries supply chain.”
Meanwhile, food and drink suppliers have been granted more power at the negotiating table after seven years of successful regulation in the groceries sector, according to the exiting Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).
GCA progress since 2014 survey
- Large retailers’ overall compliance with the Code has now risen to between 81% and 97% (compared to 58% and 90% in the first survey in 2014) with 10 out of 12 retailers above 90%.
- 41% of suppliers have experienced an issue, down from 79% in 2014.
- 47% of suppliers were willing to report an issue to the GCA, up from 38% in 2014.
- 50% of suppliers now have a written agreement with large retailers.
- 47% of suppliers have received training on the Code, up from 29% in 2015.