BRC launches last stand against GCA

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has taken a last-minute opportunity to speak out against the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA), which is expected to be announced in the Queen’s speech today (9 May).

The draft Bill for the GCA, which was published by the government in May, is expected to become full legislation during this Parliamentary session. It will see the establishment of an independent body to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) and ensure that the major retailers deal fairly with their suppliers.

However, the BRC said the GCA will make little difference to farmers, as the code only covers contracts between supermarkets and direct suppliers, primarily processors and food manufacturers. It said it will simply add costly bureaucracy and replicate the work of the GSCOP, which is currently overseen by the Office of Fair Trading.

BRC food director Andrew Opie said: “The Adjudicator will make no difference to most farmers because few deal directly with supermarkets. What will help them is supporting retail investment in the supply chain, not diverting money to an expensive new bureaucracy.

“If the government is determined to push ahead with its plans for a Groceries Code Adjudicator, it must keep the burden it imposes under control. My fear is a new body will be looking to make work and justify its existence, damaging the positive relationships retailers have established. The Adjudicator should only pursue specific complaints from companies which are directly involved. The costs of responding to fishing expeditions and complaints by third parties would just add costs and make it harder for retailers to keep shop prices down.”

He said that collaboration, not conflict, was key.  

The announcement came as the BRC released a new report, Retail and Farming - Investing in Our Futures, which it says highlights the collaborative relationship between UK food retailers and their suppliers. It has said that long-term investment in supply chains is the only sustainable option for farmers to benefit, rather than an adjudicator, which may damage relationships between retailers and the supply chain. It also claimed that the UK food retailers are committed to working with everyone in the food supply chain, including farmers, to ensure reliable supplies of high-quality, safe food, that are produced in ways that respect the planet, the producer and the animals involved.

>Industry gives evidence on Groceries Code Adjudicator
>BIS calls for GCA to have greater teeth

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