Name and address withheld

SIR; As a supplier to a supplier, I am gobsmacked by the relationships now developing as a result of supermarket buyers placing completely unreasonable and often unachievable demands on their fresh produce suppliers in particular.

There seems to be a complete lack of understanding about how produce is grown and how the vagaries of weather, seasons and nature can affect production week to week.

The buyers run on margin alone with no consideration or compassion towards the people who work hard and have often invested very heavily in trying to supply good quality, healthy produce at a sensible price.

Often products are not highly price sensitive but pressure is applied to reduce the price paid for no other reason than the margin (often + 30%) is not enough. Show me a supplier working on such margins. The net effect of all this is a deterioration in customer/ supplier relationships all the way down the line, where companies and staff become demotivated as a result of the continuous relentless pressure that is always on their business (it becomes a war of attrition).

No thought is given to food miles, true traceability or even good crop husbandry - the supermarkets hide behind all sorts of protocols but really only pay lipservice to it. Price is king.

Don’t get me wrong, I support the policy that businesses need to be run professionally and efficiently - but is it wrong they should be entitled to make a profit to reward them for the risk and effort they put into their businesses?

Are the supermarkets really doing the housewife a favour by destroying UK businesses and sourcing from overseas where they can profit from cheap labour and a lack of traceability? Shouldn’t they be developing partnerships where farmers/businesses can sit down and plan for long-term investment into high quality fresh supply? I sometimes fear that UK producers will have disappeared before the supermarkets realise there are better ways of doing business.