06 February 2009 | Jake Kanter
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged supermarkets to improve their supplier relationships.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Brown called on big retailers to change their purchasing practices and speed up their payment to vendors.
It was in response to a question from Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, who asked if the Prime Minister agreed that recommendations from the Competition Commission to protect vendors should be implemented straight away. These included introducing an ombudsman to regulate supermarket supplier relationships (News, 8 May 2008).
Brown added: "In relation to developing countries, we have been in talks with supermarkets like Asda about how they can source their produce from these countries at a fair price. We will continue to push for this as quickly as possible."
George, who chairs a lobbying group on behalf of supermarket vendors, said that every day the government fails to support suppliers, more farmers and grocers will be pushed into insolvency.
"The supermarkets continue to prosper and profit during the recession. They will plead that they're offering more discounts. But who pays for this? It's not the supermarkets. Suppliers are given little choice, whether they can afford it or not," he said. "The Government must be decisive. Delay will only deepen the recession for thousands of smaller businesses which now depend on an early return to fair dealing."
A recent poll of 2,124 shoppers by Traidcraft found 59 per cent would consider shopping elsewhere if they discovered their supermarket treated its suppliers poorly (Web news, 15 January).