Tesco at the centre of supermarket dominance inquiry
AN alliance of farmers, environmentalists and public interest groups is urging local shopkeepers, farmers and consumers to have their say in the great supermarket debate.
Members of the public now have just two months left to submit their views to the Competition Commission which is currently investigating the dominance of the big supermarkets in the grocery sector.
The inquiry started earlier this year and is looking at how the supermarkets treat their suppliers, whether they are harming competition between retailers and whether the increasing dominance of the big retailers is reducing choice for shoppers.
Farmers across the Yorkshire Dales continue to struggle to make a decent income from their milk herds whilst Tesco in particular rakes in record busting profits. The decisions of the Commission could affect the lives of millions in the UK and abroad say environmentalists.
Friends of the Earth Supermarkets Campaigner Sandra Bell said: "This Inquiry into the dominance of the big supermarkets is crucial to the future of our high streets and the livelihoods of our farmers.
"But the Competition Commission can only act if it is given the evidence. People have just two months before commissioners make up their minds on whether there is a problem.
"Farmers who think supermarkets are treating them unfairly and local shopkeepers whose businesses are threatened by the big supermarkets should contact the Commission now".
We know that farmers have been nervous about speaking out if they are being bullied by the
Michael Hart - Small and Family Farms Alliance
Tesco - which has recently won approval from a government inspector to increase the size of its Skipton store in the face of local opposition - controls some 30 per cent of the market and in some UK towns it takes over half of all spending on grocery shopping.
The Competition Commission has told campaigners that not enough of the affected individuals have so far provided evidence that big supermarkets squeeze farmers or make it hard for local shops to thrive.
Michael Hart from the Small and Family Farms Alliance said: "We know that farmers have been nervous about speaking out if they are being bullied by the supermarkets but this Inquiry is the best opportunity we've had for years to redress the balance and we are now in a Countdown to the Commission's deadline.
"Farmers can give confidential evidence to the Commission without fear of reprisal"
The Competition Commission can be contacted directly at Groceries@cc.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to The Inquiry Secretary (Groceries Market Inquiry), Competition Commission, Victoria House, Southampton row, London WC1B 4AD.
Individuals can also send a message to the Commission via the Friends of the Earth website at http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/real_food/press_for_change/
I have become concerned over the last 10 years by the way in which the majority of people's choices about where they buy their food has become reduced. The supermarkets are great in that it is so easy and the choice is vast, but I do not want this choice at the expense of other people.
I would rather pay more, have less choice and be confident that the people that produce the food are being treated fairly. I also think that the people who are hit hardest are the older people or those without their own transport or internet access.
People will one day realise what they have lost.
Ann Ambrose - Settle, North Yorkshire