Simon Mowbray A campaign to tear up the government's "wholly inadequate" code of trading practice between the top four supermarkets and their suppliers was gathering momentum as The Grocer went to press. The long delayed code was finally unveiled by secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt this week, setting out a blueprint for future deals in the supply chain. Aimed at protecting the interests of suppliers, it will require Britain's major retailers to enter into written agreements and give "reasonable notice" before changing any conditions of contract. However, the code, which could still be amended following representations from interested parties, was immediately slammed by farmers' leaders and suppliers for not going far enough. In particular, there was disappointment that the code, which was drawn up by the Office of Fair Trading following months of discussions, would only cover those multiples with more than 8% of the retail grocery market ­ Tesco, Sainsbury, Safeway and Asda. Now NFU president Ben Gill, who branded the DTI's code "flawed and ambiguous", is leading calls for the code to be replaced with a voluntary document agreed in private between retailers and suppliers. He told The Grocer on Thursday: "We will be talking to the major multiples to see if we can do the job that the OFT has clearly failed to do. "The code in its current form is completely ambiguous. That is in nobody's interest, neither suppliers' nor retailers'. And early indications suggest the multiples will be prepared to talk to Gill. Safeway director of communications Kevin Hawkins said: "With goodwill on both sides we can make the code work. But we will be pleased to talk to the farmers." The Grocer understands that earlier this week, frustrated at the DTI's lengthy delay in launching the code, the NFU had contacted leading multiples with a view to bypassing the DTI and resurrecting the voluntary code devised by the industry last year. But within hours of the initial talks taking place, the DTI finally unveiled the legally binding version. l See News Special, page 16 and Opinion, page 18. {{NEWS }}