The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has been criticised by the farming industry for its report published yesterday which concluded that supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly.

The nine-month study by the OFT found that supermarkets were largely adhering to the voluntary code of conduct in the industry designed to ensure a fair deal for all.

The OFT is reported to have found evidence in 46 cases where the code of conduct appears to have been breached, 44 of which relate to Safeway with the rest discovered at Sainsbury. These involved the supermarket groups demanding lump sum payments from suppliers in return for continuing to do business with them.

The OFT admitted that he lack of evidence was because suppliers were “too reticent to come forward and complain”.