George calls on Government to act now and end supermarkets’ unfair ‘food fight’

Andrew George, MP for West Cornwall, St. Ives and Isles of Scilly, is today renewing his calls for the Government to stop wasting time in creating a supermarket watchdog that will regulate big supermarket chains and protect the interests of producers and consumers.

The need for a supermarket watchdog was made clear in the Competition Commission’s reports published in 2000 and 2008. They warned that that practices by the big supermarkets were transferring ‘excessive risk and unexpected costs’ to suppliers and that if action was taken these practices would ‘have an adverse effect on investment and innovation in the supply chain, and ultimately on consumers’. Mr. George noted that new rules governing fair business practices in the supply chain were introduced in February 2010 but said that unless the Government act to create the watchdog there was no one in place to ensure the new rules are enforced.

Mr. George, who also chairs the national Grocery Market Action Group (GMAG), said,

“The call for a supermarket watchdog has cross-party support. The previous government failed to act but the Coalition Government has no excuse for any further delay.

“The Government claims one of its main goals is to empower local people so they should practice what they preach and create a watchdog which will protect local producers and consumers and give them more of a say in the competitive food market.

“Some of the large supermarkets still object. But, if they have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear. Some supermarkets claim they have improved their practices and now how a much more positive relationship with local producers. However, a watchdog is still needed to protect consumers and producers permanently and for the long term and to make sure this isn’t just supermarket spin.”

Mr. George has led the campaign for the creation of a supermarket watchdog since 2000. The GMAG includes in its membership the National Farmers’ Union, the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, Friends of the Earth, ActionAid, Traidcraft, the Association of Convenience Stores and others.

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