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Parliamentary questions
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6 November 2014
E-008839-14
Question for written answer E-008839-14
to the Commission
Rule 130
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE)

 Subject:  Unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the business-to-business food supply chain
 Answer in writing 

Over the past month there has been a series of allegations made against the UK supermarket chain Tesco. The UK Government’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched an official criminal investigation into Tesco, taking over from an already existent investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Duncan Swift, who leads the Food Advisory Group at respected audit firm Moore Stephens LLP, has emphasised that ‘supermarket buyers, operating in trading rooms similar to those operated by the banks and investment companies’ have placed pressure on supply chains. If buyer bonuses are influencing the price of Tesco’s purchasing then it is clear that the size and behaviour of supermarkets is having an unfair impact on the amount farmers receive for their produce.

1. Under current EC law, is it legal for supermarkets to operate a ‘buyer bonus’ scheme as currently used by Tesco?

2. If it can be proven that such practices are having an adverse impact on the prices which producers receive, does the Commission intend to reconsider its position on Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) which, it concluded in June 2014, were an issue best left for national governments?(1)

(1)Outlined in COM(2014)0472.

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