Grocers should pay fairer price, says Waitrose MD

Retailers need to pay a fair price to their suppliers in order to main choice and standards in their business, Waitrose managing director Mark Price has said.

"If retailers don't offer realistic returns, then pressure for consolidation of growers will increase and control of our food supply could end up in a small number of hands," Price warned.

Speaking at the Sentry Conference in Cambridgeshire, Price added: "To ensure diversity, you need good returns. Farmers need to make a living wage and that won't simply come as a cause-and-effect result of increasing global demand for soft commodities."

Price insisted that Waitrose had a strong track record in supporting British farmers and producers and that more retailers would need to follow the Waitrose model as the UK was forced to improve self-sufficiency in food production.

"We know that our customers are going to demand even more and better local and regional food, and we need a diverse supply base to provide that colour and choice," he said.

Price said Waitrose had no problem with the concept of a supermarket ombudsman, so long as it was sited within the Office of Fair Trading, rather than a separate entity.