The FWD wrote to the OFT last month inviting it to view leading wholesalers’ buying figures as part of its ongoing investigation into the much-maligned supermarkets code of practice. Alan Toft, director general of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, said wholesalers’ accounts showed the multiples’ buying terms discriminated against those wholesalers supplying independent retailers.
Now research by The Grocer shows that the majority of wholesalers would also be willing to open their books to the OFT.
Almost two thirds of those surveyed in The Grocer’s reader panel of wholesalers said they thought the code should be changed to allow suppliers a fairer deal.
And a whopping 90% said they disagreed with the OFT’s provisional assessment that there had been no material breaches of the code by retailers. One wholesaler said: “Most of the major retailers are driven purely by price and do not fully support UK producers and industry. The increasing need for margins has made them source from elsewhere including frozen veg from mainland Europe and poultry from South America and the Far East.
“As far as the OFT’s assessment goes I think the term ‘wool pulling’ springs readily to mind. Suppliers must be allowed to make a profit.”
“It is unlikely the OFT will change their position regarding any of this,” said another. “Our reliance on government to support the independent sector is foolhardy as there is no evidence any civil servant or politician understands any of the issues or problems. But we must live in hope.”
Of those surveyed, 40% said they had so far contributed to the OFT’s investigation. However, one of those said: “It’s like knocking your head against a brick wall.”