Food suppliers in East Dunbartonshire will now have someone to ensure that they are treated fairly and lawfully by the big supermarkets, with the appointment of a new independent Groceries Code Adjudicator by Liberal Democrat Consumer and Competition Minister, Jo Swinson.
Following pre-appointment scrutiny, Adjudicator-Designate Christine Tacon will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which regulates interactions between the ten largest supermarkets and farmers and suppliers.
This will allow farmers and suppliers in East Dunbartonshire to complain to the Adjudicator if they are unfairly treated by supermarkets. If a breach of the code is found, the Adjudicator will be able to make recommendations against a supermarket or impose fines.
"For too long, the balance of power in the grocery market has been in favour of large supermarkets. This has seen many farmers and suppliers receive unfair prices, year on year, with many struggling to stay in business.
"Christine Tacon has a wide range of experience in the food, retail and farming industry and so this announcement is a real milestone. Her knowledge of the sector will be of huge benefit and help rural communities who deserve a fair deal for their hard work."
"The Grocery Code Adjudicator is an important part of the Liberal Democrat commitment to building a stronger economy in a fairer society. That's why I am so pleased with Monday's announcement because it means that our campaign is turning into a reality."
The Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, which will formally create the office of the Adjudicator, is currently before Parliament. Christine Tacon will act as Adjudicator-Designate until the office of the Adjudicator is established by law, when she will formally take up the four year appointment.
In her new role, Ms Tacon will be responsible for enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which regulates interactions between the ten largest supermarkets with an annual turnover of £1bn and their direct suppliers.
In addition, the Adjudicator will have the power to launch investigations into suspected breaches of the Code, including those arising from confidential complaints from any source. If she finds evidence of a breach, the Adjudicator will be able to make recommendations against a supermarket, require them to publish details of their breach, or, in the most extreme cases, to impose fines. She will also have the power to arbitrate disputes between large supermarkets and their direct suppliers.