Proposed new powers hailed

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Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill, pictured, has welcomed the news that the Grocery Code Adjudicator could be granted new powers to fine supermarkets in breach of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

The minister said: “My position on this important matter has consistently been that we need an Adjudicator with real power. I therefore welcome the fact that the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has now introduced draft legislation to grant the Adjudicator the power to fine large supermarkets that breach the Groceries Code of Practice.

“Whilst I appreciate that the role of the adjudicator is not to determine a fair price, I believe that her ability to prevent unfair practices will be strengthened by this legislation.”

Commenting on the development, UFU president Ian Marshall said: “The UFU’s position has always been that the Groceries Code Adjudicator should have enforcement on retailers for any unfair practices and we are encouraged to hear that Ms Tacon is to be given the ability to fine retailers for malpractices which is urgently needed to address the serious disputes happening between the large supermarkets and their direct suppliers.

“If agreed in Parliament Ms Tacon will have the power to impose substantial fines on retailers of up to 1% of turnover if a retailer is found to have punished a direct supplier through unfair trading practices. However, while this is encouraging news for those with a direct relationship with retailers, conversations must now begin on how the Grocery Code can be extended further up the supply chain to cover primary producers.”