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MP welcomes sharp teeth for supermarket watchdog

December 5, 2012 3:23 PM

Tim with Morrisons Director of Public Relations, Richard Taylor, at the Kendal store.Cumbrian MP Tim Farron this afternoon welcomed news that Liberal Democrat Minister Jo Swinson has decided to make an amendment to the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill to grant the Adjudicator the power to impose fines from day 1.

Following months of pressure on the Government by Tim and other MPs to ensure the supermarket watchdog had proper teeth, this is the final and most important aspect of the Bill that will ensure that the Adjudicator genuinely has the power to protect food producers from unfair practices by big supermarkets.

Tim ensured that the Grocery Codes Adjudicator was in the Lib Dem manifesto at the last election. This legislation will help to rebalance the relationship between producers and consumers by forcing supermarkets to treat farmers fairly.

This is a very important step forward, especially for farmers and growers who have suffered at the hands of supermarket buying practices. The Groceries Code Adjudicator will ensure that larger supermarkets which have built business through their effective use of market muscle will no longer be able to abuse their power to the detriment of producers.

The lack of fairness in the market means, for example, that 50% of dairy farmers have gone out of business in the last 15 years. Tim believes it is time that this unfairness was ended.

Commenting Tim said: "This is fantastic news. I have been calling all along for the Groceries Code Adjudicator to have proper teeth to hand out fines where supermarkets have been found to be exploiting producers. This will ensure a strong and powerful watchdog which will act as a genuine deterrent to supermarkets and will protect our farmers and food producers."

Commenting further, Jo Swinson said: "The food industry plays an important role in economic growth, and the Groceries Code Adjudicator will help to ensure that the market is operating in a fair and healthy way.

"We have heard the views of the stakeholders who were keen to give the Adjudicator a power to fine, and recognise that this change would give the Adjudicator more teeth to enforce the Groceries Code.

"We expect fines to be used as a last resort, but the fact that the Adjudicator has the power to impose them will send a strong message to retailers that compliance with the Code is not optional. I am confident that these changes will mean that the Adjudicator is able to ensure fair play in the food supply chain and keep the industry growing."