The UK government’s Office of Fair Trading has welcomed a move by supermarket J Sainsbury plc to write to suppliers in dispute over new payment terms about flexibility in their implementation.

In January Sainsbury’s wrote to a large number of its suppliers to say that its payment terms would be changed as from 7 March, the OFT said. The Fresh Produce Consortium and the National Farmers Union, on behalf of supplier members, raised the matter with the OFT.

The OFT welcomes that Sainsbury’s is writing to those suppliers in dispute over the new terms to say that pending dispute resolution they will not implement the new terms on 7 March. The OFT would encourage suppliers who believe that a dispute has not been effectively resolved to use the mediation process.

The OFT is however concerned to see that disputes between suppliers and supermarkets are fairly and effectively resolved  if not by negotiation then by mediation.