GCA draft bill finds mixed support

The industry has greeted the publication of a draft bill for the long-awaited supermarket ombudsmen with a very mixed response.

The draft Bill for the Grocery’s Code Adjudicator (GCA), which was published by the government yesterday, will set up an independent body to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) and ensure that the major retailers deal with their suppliers fairly.

The NFU has welcomed the announcement, saying it will mean that suppliers are one step closer to a better deal with the supermarkets.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “Now is the time for the whole grocery supply chain – producers, manufacturers and retailers – to put any past differences to one side and work together to ensure that the adjudicator will be fit for purpose as the ultimate guardian of the GSCOP. Then we can start to see better functioning supply chains which reward all players more fairly, encourage innovation, and ultimately benefit consumers.”

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has already criticised the legislation, saying it will simply add costs to the retailers and put prices up for customers.

Andrew Opie, food director at the BRC said: “Food prices are already under considerable pressure from rising global commodity costs and climbing fuel and utility prices. Retailers are doing their best to cushion customers from the full impact of these increases. The extra costs of dealing with a new administrative body will make it even harder to keep price rises away from shop shelves.

“The UK has the most regulated grocery sector in the world. If the Government is set on this ill-judged course it must at the very least keep the regulatory burden and related costs to an absolute minimum, for the good of shoppers across the country.”

The GCA was recommended three years ago by the Competition Commission. The final bill will not be introduced until 2012, with appointment to the role expected in mid-2013.

>Concern over adjudicator delay

>NFU blasts coalition delay on GCA