THE appointment of Christine Tacon as the UK’s first groceries adjudicator has been welcomed as the first step towards ensuring fairness in the supply chain.
The former Co-operatives Farms managing director will be responsible for ensuring the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is adhered to. The code regulates the way suppliers to the UK’s 10 largest supermarkets are treated.
She will be called on to settle disputes between the multiples and suppliers.
Consumer and competition minister Jo Swinson said: “This is an incredibly important position in the retail groceries sector making sure that large supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly and lawfully.
“Ms Tacon has a wide range of experience in the food, retail and farming industry and her appointment is a real milestone. Her knowledge of the sector will be of huge benefit, and I’m sure will be crucial in making the Groceries Code Adjudicator a positive and powerful contributor to the groceries industry.”
The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, which will formally create the office of the adjudicator, is currently before Parliament.
She said: “Being the groceries code adjudicator is a significant responsibility, and I am honoured to have been given the chance to make a permanent and enduring difference to the groceries sector.
“Coming from a commercial background, I am sure that if we can increase trust between retailers and their direct suppliers, it will lead to greater efficiency and can only have a beneficial impact on the rest of the supply chain.”
The NFU, which was among the groups lobbying for the appointment of an adjudicator, said this was an important step forwards.
NFU head of food and farming Phil Hudson said: “This will reassure farmers that progress continues to be made to introduce an adjudicator that will have the necessary ‘teeth’ to curb the abuses of power that can undermine farmers and the supply chain, with implications for consumers.
“We lobbied Government for an independent adjudicator who can enforce the GSCOP, and can ensure a level playing field across the supply chain, and we are pleased to see this has come to fruition.
“Now Ms Tacon has been appointed, we look forward to her taking up post and quickly getting to grips with the issues affecting our members.
“Once she has formally taken up her role we will look to meet her to discuss our concerns over the way in which the supply chain operates.”
Tacon ran the Co-op’s farming business for 11 years and has since been chairman of the BBC rural affairs advisory Committee and a public member of Network Rail.