Christine Tacon, the mediator who oversees the UK’s Groceries Supply Code of Practice, held a meeting with Murcian grower-exporter association Proexport on Wednesday to discuss the problems facing fruit and vegetable companies supplying the British retail sector.
This is the first time that suppliers from outside the UK have met with the ombudsman and the purpose of the encounter was to outline the role of the adjudicator in policing the relationship between British retailers and their suppliers.
“Many Spanish companies are unaware of the Code and its importance in helping to resolve disputes with their customers,” Tacon said after the meeting.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator oversees the ten biggest retailers in the UK, requiring them to treat suppliers fairly by avoiding payment delays, honouring supply agreements, not imposing compensation charges for forecasting errors and not docking payment for losses or waste among other things.
“There are two main problems suppliers face: firstly when retailers reduce payments due to a delivery problem or customer complaint, or because they want to carry out promotions; and secondly, when there are errors in purchasing forecasts, where I think the risk should be shared. We are looking at ways of solving the issue so that it doesn’t affect only the supplier,” Tacon explained.
The Code, which also applies to suppliers outside of the UK, covers Aldi, Asda, Coop, Iceland Foods, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
The GCA bases its findings on the results of an annual survey of suppliers, that seeks to identify and resolve failings in their relationship with the supermarkets.
Thanking Proexport’s members for agreeing to collaborate with the Code by taking part in the survey Tacon said the visit had “shown that there are certain aspects of the relationship that need to be improved”.
The UK is the second biggest market for Murcian fruits and vegetables, absorbing 23.5 per cent of exports in 2016 worth more than €579.9m. Cauliflower, lettuce, table grapes, lemons and melons are among the main products supplied.