For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Eve Mitchell, Food and Water Europe, The Black Isle, Scotland, UK
emitchell@fweurope.org

Gabriella Zanzanaini, Food and Water Europe, Brussels
gzanzanaini@fweurope.org, +32488409662

Food and Water Europe Welcomes UK Supermarket Ombudsman

Statement of Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

THE BLACK ISLE, SCOTLAND - "Yesterday's announcement that the UK will at last have a
supermarket Ombudsman to curb the economic power of retail grocery
stores and to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is welcome
news for suppliers and consumers. We are pleased that the Ombudsman
will be given the power to respond to anonymous complaints and we look
forward to a tough response to the widespread non-competitive practices
that have been used by supermarket chains.

"These large chains have continued to use their unfair market power
in negotiations with suppliers and small producers. Resistance from
both supermarkets and the British Retail Consortium to an Ombudsman
demonstrates the continued desire to put their economic interests above
the best interests of customers and the economy. It is time for the
retail grocery companies to drop their opposition and work with the
Ombudsman for everyone's benefit.

"We hope the Ombudsman vigorously takes up both the arbitration of
disputes between supermarkets and their suppliers and proactively
investigates complaints. We are especially hopeful that the "Big Four",
who grip a disproportionate share of the market and wield considerable
power over family farmers, will be investigated and their practices
curbed.

"Respect for the people who produce our food is long overdue, and we
hope the new Ombudsman redresses the imbalances in the marketplace
created by supermarket chains that punish small suppliers and farmers. 
This, in turn, should help end the race to the bottom caused when these
small businesses are unable to thrive because every penny of their
profit is squeezed out by the large retail grocery stores.

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"Consumers should also celebrate having a champion to enforce the
Code of Practice, hear complaints, and prevent the unethical practices
that impact consumers. In the long term, this will result in higher
quality food produced in a more sustainable way. Additionally, ethical
retailers will be able to be profitable and not have to fear being
driven out of business by unprincipled competitors.

Food and Water Europe is the program of Food & Water Watch, Inc
(a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, DC), working to ensure
clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world.  We empower
people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about
what we eat and drink.

For more information, visit http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/world/europe.

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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