11 April 2002 | Robin Parker
Supermarkets and supplier groups have cautiously welcomed a government initiative to encourage adoption of a controversial code of conduct.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) wants to encourage food manufacturers and supermarkets to apply the code of practice on supermarkets' dealings with suppliers. The code was launched by the Department of Trade and Industry last month to lay down a statutory mediation process between suppliers and the UK's four leading supermarkets.
A spokeswoman for the Co-operative Wholesalers' Society said it had long been "annoyed" at its exclusion and had adopted the code voluntarily.
A National Farmers' Union spokeswoman said she was encouraged by Defra's statement, but added: "It should also look at how effective the code will be in practice. There is no point extending an ineffective code to the entire food chain."
Defra did not say if it will back the government-appointed Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food's proposed establishment of a central independent mediation service.
Defra will produce a formal strategy in the autumn.