Policy Commission chairman Sir Don Curry hit out at a "debilitating" imbalance of power between food producers and retailers at this week's NFU conference. The food industry is in crisis partly due to this imbalance, he said.
Curry welcomed the OFT's review of the code of practice in supermarkets dealing with suppliers, announced this week as a means of redressing the imbalance. He urged farmers to write to the OFT now the review was under way to express their views on the code.
The industry is "coming under enormous pressure" due to these food chain relationships, and other external pressures such as increased consumer power, globalisation and CAP reform, said Curry, who now chairs the Policy Commission Implementation Group.
He said: "We are either going to be driven by change or influence it. A combination of factors are coming together over the next few years which will accelerate the pace of change."
Curry revealed he had received positive feedback after writing to 50 major retailers, food processors and foodservice companies in December to ask them to contribute to a £1.5m food industry fighting fund.
Recipients of the letter, including all the major supermarkets, have now offered support "in cash or in kind", he said.
The funds will be divided up between the Food Chain Centre, the Red Meat Industry Forum, Assured Farm Standards and English Farming and Food partnerships.