The Queen's speech: will the Groceries Code work?

Funds absorbed by the Groceries Code Adjudicator leave less money for retailers’ supply chains.

The way the Government implements the new Quango, the Groceries Code Adjudicator, will be a real test of its oft-stated commitment to better regulation. We already have the most regulated grocery sector in the world and the new Adjudicator has the potential to add unnecessary burdens to companies that have been key in creating jobs and helping hard-pressed consumers cope with the economic downturn.

It’s in retailers’ own interests to have excellent relationships with their suppliers. They depend on a successful and resilient supply chain to keep their shelves stocked with the produce consumers want to buy. This relationship is backed up by the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which sets legal conditions on contracts with suppliers and includes the right to independent arbitration. It’s worth remembering the bulk of our products are sourced from large, often multi-national food companies, not direct from farmers. It seems bizarre these companies, many bigger than the retailers, require more protection.

The proposed Adjudicator is in danger of adding to the cost and bureaucracy of running a grocery business without adding to the strong protection which already exists for suppliers. As the Government pushes ahead with the legislation to create the Adjudicator, the priority must be to minimise the burden it threatens to impose.

It should only be able to pursue specific complaints from suppliers which have direct relationships with the retailers, and which are related to the Groceries Code. Allowing third party complaints would open retailers up to malicious campaigns and fishing expeditions from those without full knowledge of the agreements involved, at a great cost to all parts of the grocery supply chain. Funds absorbed by the Adjudicator leave less money for retailers to spend where it matters most – on investing in their supply chains and keeping costs down for consumers.

Andrew Opie is the British Retail Consortium Food Director.

Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Opie is the Retail Consortium Food Director.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.