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FDII, IFA Call For Irish Grocery Ombudsman

Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) has welcomed the appointment of a grocery sector adjudicator in the UK, saying the move highlights the need for "urgent implementation of the Irish Grocery Code that protects suppliers and food companies in our own domestic sector."

Christine Tacon, the former head of the farming business of the Co-operative Group, was announced as the UK Grocery Code Adjudicator by the British government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, yesterday.

Her core responsibility will be the enforcement of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which was introduced in 2010, and to regulate activities between the UK's 10 biggest supermarkets. Those that are adjudged to not treat suppliers fairly will be subject to fines and be 'named and shamed' in the press.

FDII added that as 42% of Irish food exports currently go to the UK, "this measure will benefit Irish food companies."The IFA has also expressed its support for the establishment of a similar ombudsman here, with John Bryan, its president, noting that as an adjudicator, "Ms Tacon will have the power to fine retailers found guilty of breaching the Code. This is the kind of legislation and enforcement we need to see taken in this country."

Bryan added: "Despite a commitment in the Programme for Government and repeated promises, the Government has failed to regulate retailers. We want immediate action on this issue from Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton.

"This means a statutory Code of Conduct and an independent ombudsman to investigate retailers' abuses. Such abuses cover not just unfair trading practices, such as 'hello money' and other forced contributions, but also labelling designed to mislead consumers."

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