A report published by the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) has revealed a ‘record’ improvement in retailers’ dealings with suppliers, but industry concerns over unfair trading practices remain.
The current post-holder, Christine Tacon, claimed the survey demonstrated retailers’ compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice was at an ‘all time high’.
Results from the survey, which included 1,500 direct suppliers to the 13 regulated retailers, saw a 41 per cent drop on the year before in the number of suppliers who had experienced a Code-related issue over the past 12 months (May 13).
With the survey accounting for the challenges faced by Covid-19, Ms Tacon said: “The survey is a testament to the stronger and more effective communication between retailers and suppliers, which the GCA has fostered over the past seven years.
“It also demonstrates that the Code has provided flexibility retailers need to maintain a vital and efficient supply chain that is getting groceries to the consumer.”
NFU chief food chain adviser Christine McDowell echoed this and said the new figures were testament to the GCA’s ‘collaborative’ approach to holding retailers to account and had ensured the public’s needs were met in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the moment, the GCA regulates the relationship between direct suppliers and the 13 biggest retailers in the UK, but the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) has warned this remit must now be extended to the wider supply chain.
Responding to the report, TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “The GCA looks only at the relationships between the major retailers and their direct suppliers, however, it is further up into the supply chain that we see problems occur.
“Farmers and other primary producers are often left carrying the can for decisions taken further downstream.”
Despite improvements, Mr Dunn highlighted the Government had recognised issues surrounding trading unfairness, adding: “This is why the Agriculture Bill now contains new provisions to regulate those aspects of the supply chain.”