Philip Clarke speaking at NFU

Clarke: initiative showed the industry’s “commitment”

Retailers and suppliers have thrown their weight behind a new initiative to improve grocery trading practices across Europe in the vein of the UK’s own Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

The Supply Chain Initiative is a code of conduct on contractual relationships spearheaded by seven pan-European industry associations. It mirrors many of the GSCOP requirements, but is voluntary and will apply not only to direct supply relationships but along the entire supply chain.

Work on the initiative began in 2011 and it was officially launched two weeks ago, when a list of companies that have signed up to become members was published. These include Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl as well as major suppliers such as Coca Cola Enterprises, Nestlé and Mondelez.

Tesco CEO Philip Clarke, who has been closely involved in the initiative in his role as president of the European Retail Round Table, said the launch showed the industry’s “commitment to working together in a positive and fair way”.

Ray Symons, BRC head of EU and international affairs, added that the BRC had worked closely with the initiative to ensure UK retailers could sign up without duplicating any existing GSCOP requirements. “It allows UK retailers to demonstrate their commitment to high standards of behaviour in contractual relations,” he said.

GSCOP Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, also welcomed the move. “We support the aims of the voluntary initiative and will be looking to discuss and contribute to its development,” she said.

Noticeably absent from the initiative are farmers. The NFU’s European policy adviser Adam Bedford said farmers believed a purely voluntary approach was not sufficient and regulatory backstop powers were needed.