Over 90% of people think supermarkets treat farmers and suppliers “unacceptably” and nearly 80% believe that the supermarkets have become too powerful and limit choice, according to a poll by ActionAid.
Plans for an independent watchdog, known as the Groceries Code Adjudicator, are contained in a draft bill which is being published by the government today. This will find widespread public support: the survey found 84% of people want the government to introduce an independent watchdog to monitor supermarkets as soon as possible.
ActionAid’s poll also showed the importance British shoppers place on supermarkets acting decently, with 81% saying it is important to know that the original farmer or supplier got a fair deal.
Meredith Alexander, head of trade and corporates at ActionAid, said: “The public are quite rightly appalled when they find out the detail of just how badly supermarkets treat the farmers who produce their goods, many of whom are based in developing countries. Supermarkets get away with behaviour which would be beyond the pale in everyday life, such as paying less for goods than originally agreed with the farmer or supplier, after they’ve been delivered.
“Ordinary shoppers and consumers find these practices unacceptable, and our survey shows they want the government to do something about it.
“That’s why ActionAid is pleased that the government has published its plans for an independent watchdog. It’s vital that the legislation is pushed forward as quickly as possible to create an adjudicator that will bring the supermarkets to heel.”
ActionAid has long campaigned for improvements to pay and conditions for the women who grow, pick and pack supermarket goods in developing countries. A supermarket watchdog would ensure a fairer deal for farmers at home and overseas, and prevent some of the practices that trap farm workers in poverty.
ActionAid’s survey of 2,000 people, carried out by Gfk NOP, found:
- 92% of people believe common supermarket practices are unacceptable. These included paying suppliers less than originally agreed in a contract; giving suppliers less than 24 hours to change an order with a fine or charge if the delivery is less than 100%; charging suppliers for each customer complaint regardless of whether the fault is the supermarket’s or the supplier’s; and holding the supplier responsible for stock reduction caused by theft or administrative error at the supermarket.
- 78% of people agreed or strongly agreed that supermarkets have become too powerful and are pressuring farmers and suppliers to reduce costs and limiting choice for consumers
- 81% said it was important or very important to know that the farmer or supplier who supplied the supermarket with produce got a fair deal
- 84% agreed or strongly agreed that a supermarket watchdog should be put in place as soon as possible
photo : ©Kristian Buus/ActionAid