The consultation process for the DTI's proposed code of trading practice for the top five supermarket chains and their suppliers has reached what Whitehall sources are describing as its "final, final stage". A draft document is currently in circulation in which the OFT has attempted to redefine what it means by "reasonable" when used as a definition of the outcome of negotiations between chains and manufacturers. This has been a strong bone of contention among farmers and food manufacturers in particular. However, it is understood that secretary of state for trade and industry Stephen Byers plans to make a formal announcement about the code's implementation next month and the draft document must be back with the Office of Fair Trading early next week. One government source told The Grocer on Thursday that Byers is keen to stick to his original fast-track agenda for the code and introduce it before the general election. And he added: "That way, he can save face and be seen to be doing something about supermarket power, even though the Competition Commision report on multiple profitability largely gave the chains a clean bill of health." Meanwhile, despite the top five multiples' public backing for the code, there is considerable cynicism within Whitehall circles about whether they will apply it "in good faith". {{NEWS }}