Tesco is not the only multiple playing hardball with its suppliers right now, says Adam Leyland

Summoning its suppliers to Discounter House for a new round of tough talks in the same week it announced record profits of £3.1bn isn't the subtlest move Tesco ever made. But tension between buyers and sellers is high wherever you look right now, as cost price, trade investment plans, finessing of retail prices and trading term tweaks come under the spotlight.

Sainsbury's, for example, is playing hardball with its booze suppliers, demanding that either they absorb the recent duty hikes or offer better prices.

Asda was also forced to climb down over its imposition of an automatic £70 charge on a supplier if a customer complained. As a measure of the bad blood, we even received (unfounded) reports area managers were asking staff to make false complaints to hit a £5,000-per-store-per-week target.

These are just the latest in a string of complaints we've received from suppliers over the past few months. They are even fuming over the tactics of Waitrose, a supermarket previously regarded as sensitive to the pressures of a delicately balanced supply chain/a pushover.

Of course, continuing negotiation is fair game, with commodity costs falling and sales - in some areas - roaring. And while a blanket 2% or 3% cut in cost price seems a crude negotiating tool, it's an opening gambit, isn't it? Isn't it?

Some of the stories we're hearing (not all yet published) seem harsh and harmful, however. Sainsbury's duty demands seem badly timed, for example, and not just because so much of the value is being stripped out of the category: with volumes of beer and wine both down, several suppliers are now axing staff and liquidations are up.

And the other concern we've detected is a decline in collaboration. There's a danger buyers win the battle (over price) but lose the war (for efficiency/volume).