John Selwyn Gummer, MP, former farm minister and environment secretary I have always been an enthusiast for British supermarkets. I may want them as part of the High Street rather than out on the edge of town, but I still see them as the best food retailers in the world. It should therefore have come as no surprise that yet another government investigation should have found little to complain about. Of course they're tough competitors and don't accept the second rate from suppliers. Their power in the market place has its dangers and there is no doubt that they sometimes overstep the mark. Nonetheless, their overall impact has been beneficial and it has meant that ordinary people have better access to a wider choice of higher quality food than has ever been true in history. So I, for one, have been cheered up by the news of recent weeks with Safeway surprising the market with better than expected results, Tesco beating even its sparkling best, and the first signs of renaissance coming through in Sainsbury. Peter Davis has clearly a difficult task but my money is on his making it and keeping everyone else up to the mark. Only Asda has seemed shakey with the unexpected departure of Allan Leighton and the loss of George Davis. As Germany struggles, all is clearly not happy in Wal-Mart's European venture. The recent Urban White Paper must also have been a disappointment as it gives them no comfort on new superstores. Still they've time to justify the premium purchase price and we certainly can't write them off yet. Yet, despite this new found confidence, supermarkets need to take seriously the fears that so much retail concentration tends to lock out small producers and local specialist products. If the big four want to recover in public esteem, a solution to this growing issue needs to be found. Introducing wider local choice could become an effective marketing tool as well as gaining real friends, particularly in the hardpressed countryside. {{NEWS }}