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The FDF has thrown its weight behind training of suppliers in the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, amid fears trade associations have been too slow to give companies help.

The federation is to host a £500 per person training session, run by the British Brands Group, on 15 March, in a bid to try to empower suppliers in the code.

Last year’s GSCOP survey found just 45% of large suppliers said they had received training on the code, reducing to 29% when it came to micro and small suppliers, and just 28% of medium-sized suppliers.

Of those, only just over a quarter had received training from a trade association.

It compares starkly with retailers, for whom 100% of buyers have GSCOP training.

The FDF said it wanted to help make sure major supermarkets treated suppliers fairly by increasing the knowledge to better safeguard their businesses from unfair dealing.

The course, at the FDF’s Bloomsbury offices, is targeted at commercial and sales directors; key account managers; and regulatory and support staff involved in trading with retailers.

Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon said: “One of my key messages to suppliers has been to get trained in the code to strengthen themselves in negotiations with buyers who, by law, have to be trained.

“I know from meetings around the country that more suppliers have been responding to this message and I am delighted that the Food and Drink Federation is hosting this day-long training.

“Good practical training gives suppliers detailed knowledge about the code, how to use it and how I interpret it on areas such as delay in payments. Armed with this information, suppliers have a greater ability to push back when they are being asked for something that is potentially against the code. Meeting other suppliers on such training courses is also another way to build confidence, share experiences and to understand how others may have dealt with issues.”

“Supermarket buyers are trained annually on GSCOP,” said John Noble, director of the British Brands Group. “But there is no such requirement on suppliers. It is essential that suppliers are as familiar with the rules as their customers are. This course provides this key knowledge.”

Angela Coleshill, FDF competitiveness director, added: “This training is an excellent opportunity for food and drink manufacturers to better understand the GSCOP and how it affects their business. It provides practical guidance that will help suppliers of all sizes to operate more effectively in negotiations with major supermarkets.”