EU Should Ensure ‘Fair Play’ With Farmers, Grocers

The European Union should take steps to ensure “fair play” for farmers and consumers amid “abusive” commercial behavior by grocers, the U.K. National Farmers Union said.

Food suppliers that are “economically dependent” on large retailers have little ability to challenge unfair practices, according to a report e-mailed today and commissioned by the Warwickshire-based National Farmers Union and other industry groups. Some retailers have changed contracts retrospectively or shifted costs onto their suppliers, while a “climate of fear” has prevented food suppliers from taking retailers to court or complaining to other authorities.

“Unequal bargaining positions between some retailers and their suppliers have, arguably, resulted in imbalances in market power,” according to the report, prepared by Justine Stefanelli and Philip Marsden of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. “Because suppliers are often economically dependent on these large retailers, they are often in a very weak bargaining position and therefore unable to challenge these practices or recover any resultant losses.”

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