Caroline Lucas, som er medlem af EU-parlamentet for De Grønne i England, har sendt en mail med et spørgsmål rundt i EU. Spørgsmålet er ganske simpelt: Er supermarkedernes politik med til at presse små producenter af markedet, ødelægge variationen og forringe kvaliteten? Caroline Lucas’ oprindelige mail kommer nedenfor – men hun vil gerne samle så mange eksempler som muligt fra alle medlemslandene.
Derfor: Hvis I kender til eksempler på at små producenter er blevet holdt ude fra supermarkederne (fx på grund af lange betalingsfrister eller ublu krav om “hyldepenge”), på at det måske endda har ført til lukning af firmaer eller fyringer eller på at supermarkedernes krav har ført til forringelser af kvalitet og variation, så tøv ikke med at rapportere i kommentarsporet eller direkte til undertegnede på email@example.com.
Concern has been growing throughout the EU over abuses of power by large supermarket chains. Earlier this year, a majority of MEPs called for the EU’s Competition Authorities to investigate claims that supermarkets/hypermarkets/discounters or other types of large food retailers were bullying suppliers and imposing unfair terms and conditions on them.
The Competition Authorities (DG Competition) say that they want to investigate but that they need first to have some proof of how the abuse of power by supermarkets is affecting consumers. We would like to gather as much information as possible which indicates that there is a problem across a range of EU member countries, in order to prompt an investigation.
WHAT EVIDENCE DO WE NEED?
Any evidence from European Union Member States which shows or suggests that: The growth of large supermarkets in your country is leading to:
- a reduction in choice of foods or food products
- the disappearance of traditional or local foods
- reductions in the quality of food or food products
Powerful supermarkets are imposing unfair terms and conditions on suppliers (e.g. farmers, food processors and importers). For example:
- Supermarkets pay their suppliers unreasonably late
- They demand changes to terms and conditions retrospectively (after they were previously agreed or after the product was delivered)
- They demand payments in advance for giving suppliers space on their shelves
- They demand money to finance promotions without prior negotiation with the supplier
- They demand that suppliers pay for part of the supermarkets’ own advertising costs
- They demand compensation from suppliers for wastage even when the supermarket itself is responsible for causing the waste
- Suppliers are not given contracts so that they have no guarantees of fair treatment by the supermarket buyers
- Any other practices which transfer excessive risks or unexpected costs to the suppliers
Any evidence which suggests that the abuse of power by supermarkets (as in 2 above) is causing suppliers to go bankrupt or is reducing the earnings of suppliers to such an extent that they can no longer afford to invest in their own equipment and infrastructure. (This may result in workers losing their jobs, or farmers not being paid what they had thought they would earn from selling to a supermarket/hypermarket/discounter)
WHAT FORM OF EVIDENCE ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
Any evidence, relating to the themes above, will be of interest to us. Evidence could take many forms and could include:
- Newspaper articles or reports in mainstream media or specialised trade media
- Personal testimonies of suppliers either made to you or reported in the media
- Any economic reports which suggest that suppliers are finding it difficult to survive because of the unreasonable demands made on them by supermarkets
- Statistics on bankruptcies amongst agricultural suppliers or food processors Evidence from trade unions, NGOs or farmers’ associations that suppliers to supermarkets are ‘cutting corners’ – treating workers badly, putting more workers on short term contracts, or paying their own suppliers late or not paying their suppliers in full
- Questions raised in your parliament or reports commissioned by your own government, by Competition Authorities or by political parties
- Reports of any surveys of public opinion
- Personal impressions from friends and colleagues who have direct experience of being connected to a supply chain which serves an EU food retailer (e.g. they may themselves work for a retailer, supplier, processor, or be a farmer, worker or part of a local community where these businesses or agricultural activities are located)
- Any other source
PLEASE NOTE: The evidence does not have to be perfect, nor does it need to be fully referenced. We need to demonstrate that there seems to be a problem and the more evidence we can gather, even if it is only anecdotal, the better. (It will then be the responsibility of DG Competition to undertake a thorough investigation which will need to depend on much higher standards of evidence). [We recognise that some of the information which you might want to send to us may need to be kept anonymous – if this is the case please make sure that the information is specific enough for it to be clear that it is a real example – so please include, if possible, what the type of problem was and the type of product, supplier, retailer and country involved].
WHO ARE WE?
We are a loose association of European Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), concerned with food, farming, environment and development issues. These CSOs together make up the AAI EU Supermarkets Group (Details of the Agribusiness Accountability Initiative can be found from its website.) The purpose of this group is to encourage EU Competition Authorities to re-think Competition Policy so that it controls not only over-powerful producers but also over-powerful retailers. Banana Link (UK) (www.bananalink.org.uk) is undertaking this research on behalf of these civil society organisations.
For more information about the organisations in the coalition and the issues we have looked at so far, please see EU MEP briefing paper at: http://www.responsible-purchasing.org/assets/docs/EU%20MEP%20Retail%20Briefing.pdf
For more information about the Written Declaration signed at European Parliament please see. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/plenary/writtenDecl/wdFastAdopted.do?language=EN&startValue=10