Scotland’s farm union has told delegates at a conference in Edinburgh yesterday (4 September) that action to curb the power of supermarkets is essential to protect consumers, as the UK’s Competition Commission visits the country as part of its grocery market investigation. 

The National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) has a hearing with the commission tomorrow, when it intends to detail the steps required to protect consumers and the food industry from anti-competitive supermarket practices.

NFUS deputy chief executive James Withers said: “The farming industry is not against big business, nor anti-supermarket – after all, supermarkets are our biggest customers selling three quarters of all we produce.  However, we are against abuse of power and, if left unchecked, not only will the farming and food industry suffer, but consumers will be big losers.

“There some excellent examples of relationships between supermarkets and their suppliers, which benefit every link in the supply chain from farmer to consumer. However, for every example we hear of a relationship built on trust and transparency, there is another based on fear and exploitation.” 

The union added that although farmers do not fear a tough and competitive trading environment, the “frequent abuse of power by supermarkets is financially crippling major food and drink processors and the farms supplying them”. 

 “We are not asking the Competition Commission for any special favours, nor protection from tough competition. We simply need a market which rewards those who can meet consumer demand – that is essential to protect product choice and innovation, and therefore to protect consumer interests,” Withers added.