Aldi has signed up to a raft of commitments to suppliers under a pledge that aims to improve relationships and balance risk between retailers, intermediaries and growers.
The discount supermarket is the first retailer to sign up to the National Farmers Union (NFU) Fruit and Veg pledge in a move that “could change the face of retailer and supplier relations in this country”, the union said.
The commitments include:
• Treating all suppliers fairly and building long-term relationships with growers that offer greater certainty and stability.
• Offering greater price certainty to growers – honouring contracts, not renegotiating agreements, paying the agreed price and not imposing overriders, backdated charges or hidden penalties for poor sales.
• Not asking suppliers to fund promotions.
• Not charging suppliers for customer complaints or missed deliveries. The NFU said the level and cost of customer complaints has been a huge concern for the industry with the groceries code adjudicator launching an investigation into customer complaint charges and producing a best practice report for the industry to adopt. However, Aldi said it does not make the charges at all.
• Committing to buying seasonal British fruit and vegetables, sourcing regionally and from smaller growers.
• The support of a wide and diverse supply base, that provides smaller growers with the opportunity to supply a major retailer.
• Written contractual agreements
Aldi said it had a responsibility to avoid unnecessary complexity and red tape and commit to fair, planned, longer-term and fixed agreements with sensible payment terms.
It said suppliers’ responsibilities included providing the highest quality, traceable and farm-assured produce, to strive for reinvestment to advance efficiencies, and to progress sustainable farming practices and ensure fair and ethical treatment of workers.
Aldi said its buying strategies were aligned with the NFU Fruit & Veg pledge, and in some areas went beyond it.
Tony Baines, managing director of buying at Aldi, said: “As a long-standing supporter of British farmers, Aldi is proud to back the NFU’s Fruit and Veg Pledge. True to our family values, we treat growers and packers across the UK equally and fairly. This allows us to build long-term and sustainable relationships with them, which in turn enables our customers to benefit from unbeatable prices and quality.”