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Time to act on supermarket power - George

June 17, 2004 12:00 AM

The Government must protect suppliers from the "phenomenal dominance" of the 'Big Four' supermarkets, Andrew George MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, will say today.

The relationship between the big four and their suppliers is currently governed by a voluntary Code of Practice. But a report published by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in February revealed that farmers and growers are simply too scared to complain through the Code, for fear of losing their livelihoods.

In an MPs' briefing, hosted by Andrew George and Friends of the Earth,

Mr George will call for the Code to be strengthened and for the OFT to take a proactive approach to root out unfair practices.

Commenting ahead of the briefing, Mr George said:

"Doing nothing is no longer an option for the Government. Suppliers desperately need a level playing field and a strengthened Code of Practice would go a long way in providing that.

"The Code of Practice must be clear and supermarkets need to know their competitors are under the same restraints. Only then will they be prepared to give suppliers a fair crack of the whip, without fear of losing out.

"The phenomenal dominance of supermarkets means that the success of smaller suppliers is becoming wholly based on the whims of the 'Big Four'."