A call has been made for primary producers to be better protected throughout the food chain and for government to extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).
Responding to the UK-wide consultation on the role of the GCA, NFU Scotland said that primary producers were still routinely subjected to unfair trading practices such as delays in payments and changes to supply agreements at short notice.
Admitting that progress had been made in the relationships between supermarkets and their suppliers since the establishment of the adjudicator, the union still urged the UK government to either implement changes to the regulator’s powers or introduce an alternative, to ensure that farmers could address the corporate use of unfair trading practices.
The union’s food and supply chain policy manager, John Armour, said: “What has been clear through our work with the GCA has been its success in increasing compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice in the last three years. NFU Scotland has commended the openness and transparency of the office of the GCA.”
However, Armour said farmers still had justifiable complaints about common practices such as delays in payments and changes to supply agreements at short notice.
He added: “This behaviour can have a significant impact on producer confidence and hampers their ability to predict cashflow and plan for the future.”
Stating that members had reported that negative behaviour continued to be common with some retailers, Armour said they were keen to see GCA’s remit extended beyond the current top ten retailers.