from Richard Ali, director of food policy, British Retail Consortium

Sir; It was disappointing to read Colin Breed’s Saturday Essay (August 2, 2003, p30) suggesting that additional controls should be placed on successful retailers. No one who works in the industry can possibly doubt that competition by retailers for consumers equals a truly competitive environment.

Retailers fully support evidence-based policy-making. so it is unfortunate that some appear to listen more to the prejudices of pressure groups rather than real consumers.

It is in the vital interests of our consumer democracy that policy-makers understand what real consumers want and meet the five principles of good regulation propounded by the Cabinet Office. Otherwise they risk just adding cost and restricting choice.

Success in the modern British economy - for all participants - is based on the ability to understand what the customer wants and what they will be prepared to pay. When policy-makers marginalise this underlying truth, regulation becomes detached from its ability to deliver real benefits.

There are no winners when policy-makers try to add value from the top down. Instead of adding value and empowering choice they only serve to undermine the supply chain and add consumer cost.