European code for food supply chain

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The European Union is looking at plans to introduce legislation to regulate the supply chain for food which will be similar to the  Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) in the UK.

Copa-Cogeca, the European farmers’ organisation, presented proposals for a Europe-wide code of practice to the European Commission last week and this is due to be discussed at the Commission’s High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain in November.

Peter Kendall, chairman of the Copa-Cogeca food chain working group and president of the National Farmers Union in the UK, said: “I welcome the Principles of Good Practice paper which builds on our experience with the Grocery Supply Chain Code of Practice in the UK. This is the first step towards improving the bargaining powers of farmers within the food supply chain and responds to the needs of the new CAP.”

The GSCOP is designed to provide a basis for fair dealing in the food supply chain. In broad terms in lays down that payment for goods must be made in a reasonable time, a retailer may not require a supplier to contribution to the retailers marketing costs –unless laid down in the supply agreement, and retailer may not require a supplier to pay for shelf space.

In addition, it does not allow retrospective variations of supply agreements unless such variations are negotiated to be a clear and unambiguous part of the trading arrangement from the outset.

The UK is still waiting for the promised ombudsman to oversee the operation of this code of conduct so it is difficult to assess what impact it will have on the supply chain. It has been suggested that it could take another three years before the ombudsman is in place. Will the EU move any quicker?

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