Fairness in the food supply chain inquiry

Forklift moving plastic crates used for storing rhubarbs ready to be shipped off to stores.

Photograph: Exposure Photography

The NFU has submitted a response to the Efra (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) committee inquiry on fairness in the supply chain.

Gathering feedback from farm to fork 

Following record levels of inflation and the Efra committee’s ongoing food security inquiry, the committee now aim to look at issues faced across the entire food supply chain.

Efra wishes to see how profitability and risks are shared through the food supply chain, and how the existing systems of monitoring and regulation are functioning.

Issues around access to healthy and affordable food, especially for low-income households, are of continuing importance for the committee.

The NFU has long lobbied for fairness and transparency across the agri-food supply chain, and has continued it's aim in securing fairness for British farmers and growers by participating in Efra's latest inquiry.

9 January 2024

NFU gives evidence to the Efra Committee

The latest oral evidence session of the inquiry heard evidence from multiple witnesses with links to the NFU.

This included chair of the NFU Dairy Board, Michael Oakes; NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member Ali Capper who was invited in her capacity as Executive Chair of British Apples and Pears, and Chief Executive of the National Pig Association Lizzie Wilson.

The session focused on producers’ relationships with processors and retailers, the GCA (Groceries Code Adjudicator), and input cost increases.

The panel informed the committee that disproportionate costs and risks are placed on farmers and that a fairer deal is needed.

Michael Oakes told the Committee that the current high level of input costs is threatening the viability of the dairy sector. He informed the committee that “10% of farmers said they are likely to get out in this current year, and 23% said their future is very uncertain over the next two years.”

Oakes welcomed incoming legislation from the GCA review which will assist producers with supplying more than one processor, contract transparency, and ensuring that there are harsher consequences for processors and retailers who breach their contracts.

Read the NFU’s manifesto ask on fair supply chains.

28 July 2023

Consultation closed

This consultation is now closed for responses.

27 July 2023

NFU response to consultation

Our response highlighted how the NFU has long called for more fairness in our food and drink supply chains to sustainably support British agriculture for the long term.

It highlighted recommendations to be key to the success of improving overall fairness and fair dealing within the British Agri supply chain and included supporting evidence from members across all sectors.

Our recommendations included: 

• Government-led reform to establish minimum standards and provisions to promote the principles of fair dealing to deliver a fair and functioning supply chain, and to allow for long term decision making by primary producers to ensure secure and sustainable supply chains.

• For the government to recognise the horticulture and poultry sectors as energy intensive sectors, for inclusion into its energy price support schemes

• For progress to be made into the review into the Egg and Horticulture sector with a matter of urgency, in order to underpin food production and security and ensure timely benefits to both supply chains.

• A minimum 5-year rolling seasonal worker scheme, with suitable length visas, no wage differential from the National Living Wage, and no unrealistic cap on worker numbers, to provide certainty to the Horticulture sector.

• For the powers in section 29 of the Agricultural Act 2020 to be utilised to address sector specific issues relating to fairness in the supply chain. 

• That the government considers reducing the turnover threshold of GSCOP (Grocery Supplier Code of Practice) to include more retailers, and food service businesses and food manufacturing businesses, and to include “ornamentals” supplied into grocery retailers within the GSCOP and regulated by the GCA.

• For imminent and future code implementation, an adjudication body or ombudsman must be put in place by Defra, to oversee and enforce the new codes of conduct.

• Defra must utilise the expertise of the Market Monitoring Core Group to inform longer term risk assessment of the nation’s food security and enable Defra to develop targeted policy.

NFU members can log in to read the full consultation response at: NFU response to Efra Committee Inquiry on Fairness in the Food Supply Chain.

22 May 2023

NFU call for evidence

The NFU will be submitting a response to Efra's call for evidence. Between 22 May and 21 July 2023, NFU members could submit their views as part of the call for evidence.

Stakeholders can still submit their response to Efra directly by 28 July 2023. To do so, visit: Call for Evidence – Fairness in the food supply chain | GOV.UK

12 May 2023

Government launches inquiry

The Efra (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Committee has launched an investigation into how profitability and risks are shared through the food supply chain and the existing government system of monitoring and regulation of these.

To read the investigation in full so far, visit: Fairness in the food supply chain – inquiry | GOV.UK

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  • 12 May 2023: Government launches an investigation to gather evidence on fairness in the supply chain.
  • 22 May 2023: NFU launches a call for evidence for members to submit their views ahead of sending its response to the consultation.
  • 27 July 2023: NFU submits a wide ranging response, which aims to secure fairness across the entire British agricultural supply chain.
  • 9 January 2024: NFU speaks at oral evidence session.