FARMERS and growers can now make anonymous reports of retailers suspected of breaching the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) through the NFU, thanks to a new scheme.
Members can provide information and evidence through the NFU, via a simple online form, thereby protecting their anonymity when disclosing information to Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon.
NFU head of food and farming Phil Hudson said: "NFU members have been telling us for some time that breaches of the GSCOP code continue to take place, which is why we lobbied so hard for the introduction of an adjudicator.
"Christine Tacon's appointment last year opens up the opportunity to raise our concerns and complaints through an independent adjudicator who is able to carry out investigations and apply sanctions to offending retailers. With this new online form, NFU members are now able to submit their evidence anonymously through their representative body." The GSCOP came in to force in 2010 with the aim of regulating relationships between retailers and their direct suppliers.
It established a number of conditions preventing retailers engaging in unfair practices with their suppliers, such as unjustified payments for customer complaints, retrospective variations to supply agreements, tying to third party goods or suppliers and forced contributions. Although the GSCOP code covers direct suppliers only, which often our members are not, anyone with information or evidence of a breach of the code is able to submit evidence to the adjudicator. Therefore, it is still very important for our members to come forward and share their concerns."
Farmers and growers are also encouraged to take part in a separate survey run by the GCA, aimed at establishing if relationships had improved since both the code of practice and adjudicator were introduced.
NFU horticulture and potatoes adviser Lee Abbey said: "For the role of the adjudicator to be successful in stamping out bad practice, it is important that suppliers, both direct and indirect, provide information on which the GCA can act. The anonymous nature of both the NFU and GCA surveys should provide comfort to those completing the forms. I'd encourage anyone who believes breaches of the code continue to fill them out today."