Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) must be properly resourced and supported by government if it is to effectively oversee the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.
The comments follow media reports which suggested that the work of the GCA was being hampered by the way in which staff were recruited to the body through two-year secondments from within the public sector.
Mr Nicholson said: “Tackling the imbalance of power between producers and the large retailers has long been the elephant in the room.
“For example suppliers can be vulnerable to so-called unfair trading practices such as delayed payments and retrospective changes to contracts.
“The UK’s Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), was established in 2013 to oversee the relationship between supermarkets and their direct suppliers – becoming a model of supply chain oversight for other jurisdictions in the process. I do however feel that the office needs to be given more ‘teeth’ to ensure growers and producers are treated fairly – that is why we await the outcome of a recent review into the GCA’s remit and powers with interest.
“In addition to its powers the body must also be properly resourced. That is why I am concerned to read reports which suggest that the GCA is not receiving the support it requires from the government in relation to staffing.”
He concluded: “For the GCA to be fit for purpose it must be provided with the tools it needs - both in terms of powers and resources – to effectively oversee supply chains and protect suppliers. I have written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to highlight the need for this matter to be addressed.”