Retailers risk squeezing out supplier investment Helen Gregory reports Unilever's president of home and personal care has called on the multiples to curb price wars and give manufacturers more freedom to innovate. Otherwise, he warns, they risk "killing the goose which laid the golden eggs". Keki Dadiseth said retailers wanted innovation which needed serious investment and support, but they did not alway make it easy. "If you get stuck in a price war you have less ability to invest in innovation, so the brand offers become less innovative and the shopping experience becomes less exciting. That's in none of our interests." Dadiseth said the relationship between retailers and suppliers used to be confrontational. "Over time, the relationships have become more collaborative and cross-functional. But we still need to understand each others' strategies and capabilities." But he said the relationship wasn't about "squeezing each other's margins to death", more about working together. He said it was vital to understand the consumer as a shopper, and that retailers needed to understand consumer innovations that drove the market. However, Asda/Wal-Mart's trading director Mike Coupe said there was at least three times the amount of innovation in the US than the UK ­ a "significant challenge" to suppliers. He added that pricing had become transparent around the world and added pointedly: "It's difficult to justify that products are made in this country, shipped abroad and we can buy them in for up to 30% less. The industry needs to get to a situation of transparency of pricing." Brian Carlisle, area director for Kraft Foods International, said there were three key platforms that companies like his needed to step on to: convenience, snacking and well-being. Carlisle said manufacturers didn't have to be in every country for the sake of being global. "You need to be in the markets that matter." He added that Kraft decided on a global or local brand strategy depending on the particular market. "Philadelphia has a single identity worldwide but our coffee business works best at a local level." "If you haven't got a global acquisition policy today, you may end up on someone else's plate anyway, so you'll get there by different means." {{NEWS }}