Blog: Dean BestIreland's food makers demand grocery code of practice

Dean Best | 5 April 2013

The UK food industry has seen the establishment of an "adjudicator" to oversee relations in the sector - and now suppliers across the Irish Sea have called for a watchdog to police the market.

Food and Drink Industry Ireland, the local association for the country's food manufacturers, said the Irish government should look at introducing a code "as a matter of urgency".

FDII director Paul Kelly said suppliers in the country were being treated "unfairly".

"It is an urgent priority for the food sector that Government legislate for a grocery code of conduct. Across Europe governments are taking steps to better regulate the relationship between retailers and their suppliers to stop unfair demands being placed on suppliers," Kelly said.

"In the short-term these unfair demands impact on individual suppliers, but ultimately are also bad for consumers. Consumers are best served by a grocery market that is both fair and competitive, one that offers choice and convenience, and provides an outlet for new products and suppliers."

In 2009, The Irish government launched a public consultation on introducing a voluntary code of practice. No agreement was reached so two years later Dublin sought views on a statutory code, which was to be introduced by the end of 2012. However, a code has yet to be brought in.

Ireland's retailers did not respond to FDII's statement last week. However, in 2011, when the Irish government was looking to introduce a statutory code, the country's retailers said they were "committed to the development of an agreed and workable code" - which was not "detrimental to consumer interests or jeopardise employment".

The relationship between suppliers and retailers across the food chain has hit the headlines across Europe in recent months, not least in January when the UK named its first Groceries Code Adjudicator as former Co-op and Mars exec Christine Tacon (who we interviewed here).

In February, The European Commission launched an investigation into relationships in the supply chain to see if retailers use unfair trading practices to get the best deals from their suppliers.


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