Farming News - Groceries Code Adjudicator review could lead to merger with the Competition & Markets Authority

Groceries Code Adjudicator review could lead to merger with the Competition & Markets Authority

29 Jul 2022
Frontdesk

The GCA (Grocery Code Adjudicator) role is being reviewed by the BEIS (Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) as the government is required to review the role of the GCA every three years.

The GCA is the UK’s first independent adjudicator to oversee the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

The GCA was founded in 2013, to make sure that retailers "treat their direct suppliers lawfully and fairly by investigating suspected breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) and arbitrating in disputes".

The review includes:

  • How the GCA’s powers have been exercised
  • How effective the GCA has been in enforcing the Code
  • Whether to amend or replace the permitted financial penalty powers
  • Whether there is a need to set out guidance for the GCA to consider when deciding to investigate a breach

The government has included questions around the GCA’s role and whether there might be gains in efficiency and effectiveness in transferring the GCA functions to the Competitions Market Authority (CMA).

The NFU have raised concerns around these questions and the potential removal of the GCA as they lobbied for the establishment of the adjudicator role and "strongly support the vital work it does in improving trading relationships between suppliers and retailers".

NFU chief food business adviser Amy Fry said:“The GCA is incredibly valuable to the food supply chain, holding retailers to account and allowing farmers and growers to highlight breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice without fear of repercussion.”

The NFU point out that farmers and growers are facing unprecedented levels of inflation and supply chain challenges the GCA’s role is more vital than ever.

Jane Hunt, Minister for Small Business, Consumers & Labour Markets said:"The sector continues to experience external challenges and Mark White ( current GCA ) has highlighted how inflationary pressures are putting a strain on supplier and retailer relationships, as indicated by the latest GCA survey. It is therefore a useful time to consider the GCA’s role over the three years up to 31 March 2022 to help inform how best to address the challenges ahead.

"The Government has not made any decisions about a possible transfer but would be particularly interested in whether there might be gains in efficiency and effectiveness in transferring the GCA functions to the CMA."

The NFU are inviting feedback from their members. To get more information, or to give feedback, email the NFU at: FoodChainFocus@nfu.org.uk