The UK Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon will address an IFA Conference on Retail Regulation taking place in Dublin tomorrow, at which she will set out the work of her office since she took up the role three years ago. Ms Tacon will focus on Unfair Trading Practices and the impact on suppliers and producers.
Christine Tacon – the first Adjudicator – is responsible for monitoring and encouraging compliance with and enforcing the Code. The GCA is funded by a levy on the large retailers. Suppliers, trade associations and other representative bodies are encouraged to provide the GCA with information and evidence about how the large retailers are treating their direct suppliers. All information received is dealt with on a confidential basis and the GCA has a legal duty to preserve anonymity.
Next week’s Conference will also be addressed by the Minister for Enterprise Mary Mitchell O’Connor and John Shine from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
The Conference will also focus on the EU Food Chain report, published last week. IFA President Joe Healy said 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”.
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 farmgate 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”.
Joe Healy said 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.”