The trade must support BFFF’s proposal for an e-auction code


I must admit to being taken aback at just how upset and angry many frozen food suppliers have clearly become with online auctions.In my naivety, I had assumed that buyers and suppliers had got to grips with the new technology and had started using the tool, sensibly, to mutual benefit. I thought the issues we first exposed way back in July 2002 were a thing of the past.
Apparently not. Judging by what people were saying at this year’s British Frozen Food Federation annual lunch, widespread suspicion remains about the whole way these auctions are sometimes conducted.
Everybody accepts that e-auctions are part of modern business life. Indeed, when we did a survey of grocery buyers in March last year, all of them thought online auctions were here to stay and 88% said they were a better buying tool than alternatives such as sealed bids.
But when you hear stories about the winners of these auctions not being given the business - or you are told that companies are phoned half-way though an auction and urged to take part - you begin to understand why suppliers are so deeply cynical about them
As you will have read from our story on p6, the BFFF now plans to develop a code of conduct that it hopes will tackle some of these issues. The federation wants other trade bodies to work with it in developing this code. This is not a frozen food issue. Serious concerns have been raised about online auctions by companies across the grocery industry for more than two years now. The BFFF initiative is a welcome step forward and something that other trade bodies must support.

When we launched our Junk the Spin campaign, we warned that simplistic traffic-light labelling schemes were on their way. We urged the industry to do all it could to kill this daft idea at birth. To no avail, alas. And now the industry faces the prospect of such labelling - unless it can work together to persuade government and the FSA that labels with guideline daily amounts are a better alternative. The FSA does at least acknowledge GDAs in its report on signposting - which is good news. But it’s going to be an uphill struggle to persuade the FSA to give GDAs the green light.
e-conduct is unbecoming
Give GDAs a green light