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12 April 2018: Feedback welcomes EU legislation on Unfair Trading Practices as a step towards a fairer food supply chain

Feedback welcomes the EU’s proposed Directive on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain. The directive, which comes after many years of Feedback campaigning on this issue, aims to protect smaller producers from unfair dealing by large food businesses, including retailers, often leading to huge quantities of wasted food. Feedback’s research and investigations, have consistently shown that concentration of power in hands of large food businesses allows these businesses to dictate the terms and conditions by which food is grown, harvested, and transported, and to push responsibility for waste onto their suppliers. The legislation will protect small and medium sized suppliers, wherever they are based, against abusive practices, including a complaints mechanism. Feedback’s investigations in Kenya found that smaller, overseas suppliers are often the most vulnerable to unfair dealing such unfair rejections of produce and order cancellations, with a huge impact on their livelihoods. Our research on UK farms has found that farmers report waste of 10-12% on average – enough to feed the population of Birmingham or Manchester for a year.

The EU has taken an important step beyond the protection currently offered by the UK’s groceries market ombudsman, which does not currently protect indirect or overseas suppliers. The UK government decided earlier this year to resist calls to extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to protect producers who supply supermarkets indirectly, such as smaller farmers who sell their produce through middlemen.

Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback, said:

“Unfair trading practices such as cancelled orders and last-minute order amendments cost farmers dearly, but they also cost the rest of us, in the damage wrought on our planet by producing food that is never eaten. This legislation is an important and overdue step towards protecting the people who grow our food from unfair dealing which undermine their livelihoods and encourage overproduction to meet capricious supermarket demand, leading to vast amounts of waste. We urgently need a fairer food system that treats farmers with respect and that values the precious natural resources such as water and land that goes into growing food and tackling unfair trading practices is an important step in the right direction.”