Calls For Greater Retailer Social Responsibility

SCOTLAND, UK - Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead has called on retailers to look again at their social responsibilities to primary producers.
calendar icon 22 November 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

The appeal came at last week's Dairy Summit in Edinburgh, where only one of the major supermarkets, Morrisons, attended a high-level industry stakeholder event to discuss the future of the industry. The event was chaired by Mr Lochhead.

National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland Vice-President Allan Bowie, who spoke at the meeting, said: “With threats of direct action and milk prices to farmers languishing below the cost of production, the pressure is on for retailers to take greater responsibility for their words and actions.

“Both the Cabinet Secretary and the EU High Level working group looking at milk issues have clearly identified that the dairy supply chain is not working and so it is particularly disappointing that three of the big four retail players in the UK failed to engage in these critical discussions. In his comments, the Cabinet Secretary put pressure on retailers to be socially responsible for their actions and we back that pressure 100 per cent.

“We have been working behind the scenes for six months on long term solutions, but it is imperative that short term responses are made now, by way of a price rise, to allow farmers to continue to supply milk and milk products over the winter. We’re 3p per litre below the real market for milk at the moment at a time when input costs of feed, fuel and fertiliser have soared. No one can deny the pressures that farmers are feeling on the ground.

“Retailers are in the fortunate position of having margins on fresh milk and dairy products that have been built up over years and a huge amount of flexibility in comparison to farmers who have very little. Without charging the consumer a single penny more for their goods, they already have it within their gift to ensure farmers receive a fairer price for their milk. I can not impress on retailers how important it is that change happens now.

“The introduction of a meaningful and proactive Supermarket Adjudicator, to enforce the Grocery Store Code of Practice (GSCOP) is a huge priority at the moment and we will be continuing to press for this at a UK and European level. It is clear that supply issues and pressures are not solely a Scottish problem, this is a UK wide issue and we must work together as an industry to ensure that an Adjudicator with real teeth comes to fruition quickly.

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