The proportion of suppliers who have experienced a breach of the groceries supply code of practice (GSCOP) has fallen 9 per cent since 2014, according to a survey.
Last year 79 per cent of suppliers experienced a breach, compared to 70 per cent in the latest survey carried out by groceries code adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon.
The breaches most were concerned about were delays in payments, variation of supply agreements and unjustified charges for consumer complaints.
Tacon said supermarkets were charging suppliers up to £45 to cover the cost of handling customer complaints about products.
“[Suppliers] do feel when they get consumer complaints they are being overcharged for it and retailers are making a profit out of it,” said Tacon, speaking at the GCA Conference in London.
Tacon said she had proposed a best practice model that was being supported by retailers, which includes providing information to suppliers about faulty products within five days and keeping costs down by resolving complaints in-store.
Other areas of concern were packaging and design charges associated with own-brand products; requests for lump sums “out of the blue”, associated with factors such as service levels; and charges when forecasting is found to be inaccurate.
The survey, of 1,145 suppliers, found most GSCOP issues were raised with Tesco (54 per cent), though Tacon said this could reflect efforts by the retailer to be more receptive, followed by Morrisons (26 per cent) and Asda (15 per cent).
When suppliers were asked to rate buyers’ compliance with the code, the worst performer was Tesco, where 31 per cent of buyers rarely or never complied, followed by Iceland and Morrisons (both 30 per cent) and the Co-operative (25 per cent).
The proportion of suppliers who would be willing to raise issues with the GCA increased from 38 per cent in 2014 to 47 per cent in 2015. The biggest reason they would not raise issues was fear of retribution, followed by worries about being identified.
Tacon expressed concern about the level of knowledge suppliers had about the GSCOP, with the survey showing just 29 per cent had received training on it.