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Consultation to scrap the Groceries Code Adjudicator

A consultation has been announced by Government on the effectiveness of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) and whether the position should be replaced. The GCA was established in 2013 to monitor fair practice in the food supply chain between retailers and suppliers. This is the third statutory review in 10 years.

The GCA is currently overseen by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) and Government is interested in potentially transferring its functions to the CMA to improve efficiency. This idea was first explored in 2016 and at the time Government found no evidence that transferring the GCA’s functions would increase the effectiveness or accountability of the GCA. On launching the new consultation, Minister for small business, consumers and labour markets, Jane Hunt, said “in light of the need to ensure efficiency of public bodies, we would like to consider those questions again in the current review“.

Industry reaction

The announcement hasn’t been met with much enthusiasm in the food and drink sector. NFU chief food business adviser Amy Fry said: “The Groceries Code Adjudicator 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.“.

Dan Crossley, executive director of the Food Ethics Council, said: “Scrapping the Groceries Code Adjudicator role now would be a huge own-goal for the UK’s food retail sector. Over the years, power has become highly concentrated in the hands of a few big supermarkets, with attempted mergers and acquisitions by the likes of Amazon having the potential to give some companies even more market dominance.

What happens next?

If you want your views on proposals to abolish the GCA to be heard you can respond to the consultation by following this link. The consultation closes on 11 October 2022.