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RETAILERS DEMONSTRATE LONG TERM SUPPORT FOR UK FARMERS
May 5, 2012

Andrew Opie,
BRC Food Director
As the Government prepares to announce its supermarket/supplier adjudicator bill in next week's Queen's Speech, a new report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) spells out the ways in which the country's farmers are benefitting from retail investment in the food supply chain. Retailers believe long- term investment in supply chains is the only sustainable option and worth more to those farmers than anything an adjudicator could deliver.

The BRC is releasing its report, Retail and Farming - Investing in Our Futures, today (Saturday). It includes examples of cutting edge collaboration which are boosting UK farmers' returns and helping them benefit from meeting customers' needs. Farmers are also being helped to reduce both their costs and environmental impact.

Retailers and farmers have shared interests and ambitions in:

- ensuring long term food security
- working together to innovate and better meet customers' changing demands
- maintaining a world class and sustainable agricultural industry

The BRC says its evidence shows the mutually-beneficial relationships which help both consumers and these farmers are already in place. The much-heralded Groceries Code Adjudicator will only cover supermarkets' relationships with direct suppliers. It is a myth that it will make any difference to the majority of farmers.

Suppliers already have extensive protection, including the right to independent arbitration, under the existing Groceries Supply Code of Practice which is overseen by the Office of Fair Trading. The Adjudicator will replicate this role and create additional, costly bureaucracy. If the Government is determined to push ahead with it, it should recognise the positive context demonstrated by the BRC's report and minimise costs so retailers can afford to continue supporting UK farmers and keeping prices down for consumers.

British Retail Consortium Food Director, Andrew Opie, said: "As our evidence shows,
UK food retailers are committed to working with everyone in the food supply chain, including farmers, to ensure that customers have reliable supplies of high quality, safe food, produced in ways that respect the planet, the producer and the animals involved.

"It makes sound business sense to have quality suppliers who are efficient and successful. What we have is collaboration not conflict.

"The Adjudicator will make no difference to most farmers because few deal directly with supermarkets. What will help them is supporting retail investment in the supply chain not diverting money to an expensive new bureaucracy.

"If the Government is determined to push ahead with its plans for a Groceries Code Adjudicator, it must keep the burden it imposes under control. My fear is a new body will be looking to make work and justify its existence, damaging the positive relationships retailers have established. The Adjudicator should only pursue specific complaints from companies which are directly involved. The costs of responding to fishing expeditions and complaints by third parties would just add costs and make it harder for retailers to keep shop prices down."

Notes to editors:
Click here to download the BRC's report Retail and Farming - Investing in Our Futures

Media Contacts:
BRC Press Office 020 7854 8924 / 020 7854 8920 / 07921 605544
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