An IFA Conference on Retail Regulation is taking place today in Dublin, where injustices in trading practices among other things will be discussed.
Christine Tacon is the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) and she will address the conference on some very important issues. She will focus on ‘Unfair Trading Practices’ and the impact on suppliers and producers.
Tacon is the first adjudicator, and she took on the role three years ago. She’s responsible for monitoring and encouraging compliance with the Code. She also makes sure that it’s properly enforced. The conference is taking place at the Carlton Hotel, Dublin Airport, from 9.30am – 1pm. You can read the programme for it here.
The GCA is funded by a levy on large retailers, while trade associations and suppliers are urged to keep the GCA informed about any activities that are ongoing. Evidence of behaviour towards suppliers by the bigger retail giants should be provided to the GCA, and the adjudicator promises to treat all information with confidentiality.
Today’s conference will also be attended by the Minister for Enterprise Mary Mitchell O’Connor and John Shine from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The meeting will be strongly influenced by last week’s EU Food Chain report, as IFA President Healy says that the report contains important recommendations on increased price transparency and independent enforcement to strengthen farmers’ position in the food chain.
Joe Healy welcomed Commissioner Hogan’s commitment to prioritise the implementation of the report, saying ‘it is critical that these recommendations are introduced without delay and actively enforced to rebalance power in the food chain in favour of farmers’.
The IFA has actively campaigned for maximum transparency on margins at processor and retailer level, and the Commission must now introduce mandatory price reporting for meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables to provide reliable and anonymous data on margins outside the farm-gate all the way to consumer level.
Such a system operates in the US under the Livestock Reporting Act, which provides twice daily price reporting on beef, pork and lamb. Transparency on margins in the food chain, combined with public disclosure of turnover, profit and tax details for all large companies in each Member State under a separate EU Commission proposal are necessary to provide full clarity and ensure a fair share of the consumer price for farmers.
Joe Healy said, “The report recognises the need for independent enforcement of retail regulation and this effectively supports IFA’s demand for an independent retail Ombudsman. This is necessary to assure suppliers that complaints will be investigated and abuses prosecuted”.
He also added that he was disappointed that the report did not deal with the impact of below-cost selling by retailers:
“Below-cost selling undermines the price received by the primary producer over a period of time, as consumers place a lower value on the product.”