The NFU has welcomed a move by Safeway to plug what it sees as massive flaws in the code of trading practice imposed on the leading multiples by the Department of Trade and Industry. The code legally binds the four largest supermarket groups, but it has been criticised because it does not apply to processing firms who deal directly with farmers. To close this loophole, Safeway has launched a Farmers' Charter requiring processors it deals with to adhere to the principles in the code. Safeway director of communications Kevin Hawkins said: "In our talks with the Office of Fair Trading we repeatedly pointed out the major flaws in the proposed code. "It only binds the leading retailers and does not affect other retailers, foodservice companies, and above all it leaves out processors who have direct contact with farmers." NFU marketing director Helen Lo said: "This has got to be welcomed. One of our main concerns about the code was that most farmers do not supply direct to retailers." She added: "I hope this will motivate the other big three to do likewise. The bigger processors have just as much bargaining power as the supermarkets, especially if they are selected as category managers by supermarkets. "We are very pleased that a retailer has chosen to highlight this problem." However Asda gave a cool response to the initiative. A spokeswoman said: "What Safeway is proposing is already normal working practice for us. We have made pledges and our expectations are already firmly established as far as suppliers are concerned." {{NEWS }}