J Sainsbury told just-food today (20 March) that the supermarket chain has suspended its membership of the British Retail Consortium until the end of April after a disagreement with the trade body over its stance on food labelling.

Sainsbury said that it has harboured concerns about the BRC’s ability to effectively represent the varied opinions of its membership for some time, but its withdrawal from the organisation was sparked by the body’s opposition to the Food Standards Agency’s plans to introduce traffic lights labelling to indicate high, medium and low levels of salt, fat and sugar in processed foods.

The BRC’s stance mirrors that of Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket operator, who has also been critical of the FSA’s labelling proposals.

The decision to leave the body, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said, “follows concern about how the BRC is able to represent members effectively on issues where they hold significantly differing views.  We have had concerns for a while but the issue was highlighted most recently following the FSA announcement on signposting.”

The dispute comes at a time when the UK supermarkets are facing increasing pressure, as the Competition Commission prepares to investigate the sector.

The company said that it is actively working with the BRC to resolve the issue.