from Peter Kendall, president, National Farmers' Union
Sir; I am pleased that the OFT thinks the grocery market should be referred to the Competition Commission, but I am not sure the scope of the review will adequately address the concerns of many farmers and growers. What we really need to see is a thorough review of competition policy across the supply chain.
Much of the competition between retailers seems to be based solely on who can sell food at the lowest price. I believe that this is an incredibly short-term approach that could have a disastrous long-term effect on the viability of producers, eventually limiting the range of products available to consumers. As professional food producers, our objective is to deliver high quality, safe food for consumers at realistic prices. In order to do this, we need to have open and transparent trading arrangements across the supply chain.
In addition, under the current system suppliers are extremely reluctant to stick their head above the parapet and complain about their trading relationships - even if their businesses are at risk - because they fear retaliation.
The Competition Commission has to take a very close look at this situation and identify mechanisms that will allow suppliers to talk about their trading relationships without fear of losing their contracts.