Petition Reform the Grocery Supply Code of Practice to better protect farmers

We want the Government to amend the Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCP) to require retailers, without exception, to:

- Buy what they agreed to buy
- Pay what they agreed to pay
- Pay on time

We believe the current GSCP is inadequate and doesn't protect farmers from unfair behaviour.

More details

Almost half (49%) of a panel of 100 UK fruit and veg farmers fear they will have to give up their farm within the next 12 months, and many raised concerns about the behaviour of supermarkets, with 69% agreeing that tougher regulations are required to redress the imbalance of power between farmers, processors and the supermarkets.

The current GSCP contains provisions that are meant to protect suppliers, but allows supply agreements to be varied in certain circumstances. We believe a stronger, clearer code of practice is needed to make sure that all supermarkets stick to fair practices when dealing with farmers.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 22 January 2024

Watch the petition 'Reform the Grocery Supply Code of Practice to better protect farmers' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 27 November 2023

The Government is committed to tackling contractual unfairness that can exist in the agri-food supply chain and Defra is working to support farmers and ensure they get a fair price for their products.

At the UK Farm to Fork Summit held at Downing Street on 16 May, we announced a new review into fairness in the horticulture supply chain building on what we have already got underway to improve transparency and contracts in the pork and dairy markets. Beginning in December, we will launch a public consultation exploring these issues. We will analyse the responses and provide a formal response that provides a summary of the findings and sets out next steps. We can only decide what, if any, action is needed once we have analysed the responses, but I can assure you we will use the powers in the Act to bring forward legislation, wherever necessary.

This review seeks to understand issues relating to fairness in the supply chain across the whole of the UK. If responses indicate there are contractual issues that we believe we should seek to address, the powers in the Agriculture Act apply to the whole of the UK. If regulations are developed, we will engage widely with stakeholders, including the devolved administrations, to ensure that legislation works for all parts of the UK and incorporate special provision for differing circumstances, if necessary.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Minister responds to letter chasing overdue response to petition

Last month the Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the overdue Government response to this petition. The Committee had asked for the response to be provided, and an explanation for the delay in providing this.

The Government has now responded to this petition, and the Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries has responded to the Petitions Committee’s letter. The Minister has said that the department has been responding to a large volume of e-petitions, and correspondence, and that it continues to review its processes and endeavours to provide on-time responses to e-petitions in the future.

MPs investigate fairness in the food supply chain

A group of MPs called the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee are looking into how fairness in the food supply chain can be improved. The inquiry will consider how profitability and risks are shared through the supply chain and the government system of monitoring and regulation.

Read information about the Committee's inquiry.

The inquiry will consider:
- the balance of power between food producers, manufactures and retailers and how the structural relationship could be improved between these groups to provide greater fairness and transparency
- the adequacy of existing regulation, including enforcement of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice

What happens next?

The Committee is conducting oral evidence sessions to hear from key stakeholders. An evidence session is a hearing where MPs ask key experts, such as Ministers or campaigners, questions on a particular topic. These experts are called "witnesses" and they help MPs to gain a deeper understanding of the topic.

The Committee will then consider all the evidence it has taken and publish a report of its findings with recommendations to the Government on any changes that might be needed.

What is the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee?

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Find out more about the committee on its website.

Follow the committee on X (formerly Twitter) for updates on its work.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work.

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