The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has criticised plans to extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).
A spokesman for the FDF said extending the adjudicator’s remit to include farmers who sell to supermarkets indirectly and to other retailers, as the Government is consulting on, would be ‘unimaginably complex’.
He went on to say the adjudicator was having a ‘real and positive impact’ on supply chain relations and recommended extending the model to cover only other large retailers and wholesalers.
“There has been a huge volume of work generated in reviewing relationships between 10 retailers and their direct suppliers; to extend this to the whole supply chain would paralyse the progress that has been made”, the spokesman added.
Most farming groups have been supportive of an extension, with NFU president Meurig Raymond calling for all voluntary codes of practice to be made compulsory and overseen by the GCA.
Judith Bryans, Dairy UK chief executive, has also said large food service companies, smaller retailers and wholesalers should be covered by the legislation.
The FDF’s comments echoed concerns raised by the adjudicator herself, Christine Tacon, who has previously expressed reservations about an extension, believing it could make the rules too bureaucratic.
But NFU food chain adviser Christine McDowell, while acknowledging the complexity of a remit extension, said the process was ‘absolutely necessary’ for farmers to be competitive.
She added: “Primary producers should not have to bear the brunt of risks passed down by the supply chain, such as unreasonable notice to a change in price; some farmers do not even know the price of their product until a month after it has been sold. We need a level playing field for all producers.”