The Canadian Retail Council, which represents Canada’s largest grocery retailer, announced yesterday (May 27) that it would be calling for a “food industry code of conduct” and unveiled a new “alliance” of supplier and retail organizations that would attempt to implement the new system to develop.
Food manufacturers operating in Canada have been calling on the country’s government to establish a code of conduct for years. These demands tightened last summer after some large retailers introduced new fees for suppliers.
In March, Empire, Canada’s second largest grocery retailer – chains like Sobeys – and the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP) trade group, which represents Canada’s food sector, presented plans for a food supply code of conduct.
According to their plans, which will be presented to a government working group, a state judgment system will be established to deal with complaints of unfair practices under the Code.
The alternative ideas developed by the new Canadian Food Industry Collaborative Alliance envision a different role for the government. A statement released yesterday on behalf of the Alliance by the Retail Council of Canada said: “We believe that a code of conduct for the Canadian food industry must be developed by industry for industry, reflecting and respecting the unique elements of the Canadian food supply chain and federated system must go to the government.
“We therefore suggest that the industry work together to devise, lead and participate in a consultation process to develop the Code of Conduct and a supervisory framework to support compliance with its provisions. The code of conduct would not be embedded in the regulation, which would allow it to develop flexibly. However, participation would be mandatory. ”
According to the plans of the alliance, an “industry steering committee” is to be formed to work out the provisions of the code. The committee would include representatives from retailers, producers, processors and the government, the statement said. A schedule that has been submitted provides that the code will be drawn up by December next year.
In response, FHCP said it was “pleased that the association that represents the chains that control over 80% of grocery sales in Canada has finally agreed that our food delivery system must be based on transparency and fair treatment, like FHCP and Empire im March officially proposed ”. .
However, it added, “The proposed consultation approach and timetables duplicates the current commitment of the federal, provincial and territorial government working group and calls on Canadian taxpayers to fund a brand new process that will last two years and not begin until the fall . We are concerned that this proposal is designed to thwart government action, seeks to address a number of complex food supply issues with a unified approach, and fails to draw on lessons from existing international models. Decades of experience in Canada and around the world have shown that large grocers will not voluntarily regulate their unfair behavior. ”
The code presented by the FHCP and Empire was based on experience outside Canada, in particular the UK Food Code of Conduct.
In contrast, the new alliance, which includes six organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and FBC-ABC, has stated that “every code of conduct in Canada must be developed for Canada”.
FHPC said yesterday: “In developing our proposed Food Code of Conduct, the FHCP and Empire relied heavily on the advice, knowledge and expertise of former UK adjudicator Christine Tacon for advising us to take a practical and simple step, which on most would have a significant and positive impact on the supply chain.
“Our goal has always been to establish a code between large retailers and manufacturers that is where most of the challenges lie. Our Code was created to meet the needs of the Canadian market, drawing lessons from relevant international precedents, in particular the UK Food Code of Conduct, which remains the most effective model. Our focused approach is an important step forward and doesn’t try to solve every challenge in the supply chain. ”