Supply chain exploitation: 'supermarket watchdog needs more powers'

27 June 2016 - 8:00am
Press release

The Groceries Code Adjudicator is the UK’s first independent adjudicator to oversee the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

As the annual Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) conference gets underway today, Vicki Hird, Director of Campaigns and Policy at War on Want, said:

"Supermarkets wield unprecedented power on a global scale, dictating unfair terms under which overseas producers are forced to sell their goods.

"The intermediary companies the retailers often use to get their supplies also use unfair terms of trade. The exploitative terms of trade they use, such as late payments and demanding additional promotional fees, can lead to lower pay for workers and farmers struggling to make a living. Consumers too are unable to choose produce that has not involved exploitation.

"While it’s clear from the recent investigation into Tesco that exploitation in supply chains is rife, the power of the Grocery Code Adjudicator to tackle abuse by the retailers and others in the supply chain remains limited.

"The upcoming review by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills must ensure that the Grocery Code Adjudicator can get tougher on bad practice, be proactive in investigating exploitation and curb abuses of buying power along the whole supply chain."

War on Want is part of the Groceries Code Action Network (GCAN), a coalition of 23 NGOs, unions and food groups which welcomes the upcoming review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), and calls on the government to extend the supermarket watchdog’s remit. The GCAN is calling for fair trading practices, including paying suppliers on time and in full, to be enforced at every level of the supply chain.

To date, the Grocery Code Adjudicator first and only investigation found that Tesco had delayed millions of pounds worth of payments to suppliers. Yet unfair trading in food supply chains with suppliers too scared to report breaches to the GCA for fear of losing business (40% said this was why they were not reporting malpractice in the GCA’s 2015 survey).


Notes to editors

For more information and interviews contact Ross Hemingway 07983 550 728

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