Now don't get me wrong a Supermarket Ombudsman is a good idea and a measure of protection for the customer, the supplier and the farmers is a good idea that has (and is) long overdue - but it does seem to have gone awfully quiet since the election. When I was clearing my spare room I came across a hastily scribbled note from 2006 (probably in preparation for a Conference speech in 2006 / 2007) which even though we are a few years down the line should give most people some food for thought:
- The big '5' (in 2006) controlled almost 80% of the grocery sales in the UK
- Between 1995 and 2000 the UK lost one fifth of its local shops and local services - local post offices, local butchers, local branches of banks, grocers, etc
- The supermarkets have made and regular large donations (in cash or kind) to both New Labour, the Conservatives and other political parties.
- 54 years ago farmers received between 45 and 60% of the money that consumers spent on food.
- In 2006 it was just 7% in the UK, 3.5% int he USA and 18% in France.
- Gate prices don't make anything like a fair comparison with final Shelf price - in the UK farmers got (in 2006) something like 8 - 13% bellow the EU average gate price.
A good and pertinent question to ask would be what do they (the Supermarkets) get for their money? or at least what are they seeking in lieu of their donations? The answer may well be a weak and watered down Supermarket Ombudsman - which is the last thing any of us needs, whether as a customer, a supplier or a farmer. Another question that needs to be asked is whatever did happen to that much vaunted pre-election idea of a Supermarket Ombudsman?
So far, not a lot...