Date(s) - 26th June 2017
12:00 am

Unfair packaging charges reduced says adjudicator, but payment delays still troubling.

Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) Christine Tacon says the latest polling data from supermarket suppliers “demonstrate major progress across key issues” during her four years in the role. But she says payment delays remain a major issue.

The latest YouGov survey, carried out each year to coincide with the GCA’s annual conference, shows for the fourth year running that fewer of direct suppliers (down from 62% last year to 56%) said they had experienced one or more breaches of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCoP), which the GCA polices.

Tacon said: “The overall fall is welcome, but the more dramatic data comes from looking at supplier experience of issues that I have identified among my Top Five, and where I have used collaborative or more formal regulatory action to drive change.”

The figures show a fall in suppliers experiencing:

  • “forensic auditing”  – from 45% in 2014, to 12% in 2017;
  • “margin maintenance” requests, from 36% in 2014 to 10%;
  • unjustified charges for consumer complaints, down from 37% to 12%;
  • unfair packaging and design charges, down from 24% to 11%;

Tacon added: “Suppliers have found the issue of packaging and design charges to be an irritant for years. Recently a supplier in the fresh produce industry told me that that they had been trying to resolve the problem of overcharging in this area for more than 10 years. But within 18 months of me focusing on the problem he was pleased to say the issue had gone away.”

The 2017 survey also saw a increase of more than threefold in the number of suppliers participating, rising to 1,220. It also revealed:

  • For the fourth year running, Aldi topped the overall table in suppliers’ perception of retailers’ compliance with the code, while Tesco “is continuing to improve”, Tacon noted;
  • Delay in payments continues to be the issue of highest concern to suppliers, with with 32% of suppliers reporting incorrect deductions from invoices, with or without notice.

Tacon noted on this last point: “There is still work to be done in this area and I am right to maintain this as one of my Top Five issues.”

At the conference in London, Tacon confirmed she has committed to another year as GCA. Her remit is still being considered by the Government.

Read the article here