Supermarkets have achieved a record improvement in their dealings with their suppliers, according to a survey by the Groceries Code Adjudicator.
Christine Tacon’s final survey as the UK's GCA shows that retailer compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice is at an all time high.
A record of nearly 1,500 direct suppliers to 13 retailers completed the survey and just 36% said they had experienced a Code-related issue at any point in the past 12 months – down from 41% in 2019.
This was a particularly striking result as the survey period included three weeks when the sector was facing the challenge of huge increases in consumer buying of certain products as the Covid-19 crisis hit.
And it represents significant progress since the first survey was conducted in 2014 when 79% of suppliers said they had experienced issues.
In addition, direct suppliers recognised improvements across every Code-related issue. The most common issues experienced by suppliers in 2020 related to forecasting, delay in payments and de-listing.
Each of these is now at its lowest reported level – at 13 percent, 12 percent and 12 percent respectively.
In comparison, 35% of suppliers reported experiencing delay in payments in 2014, 33% experienced issues with forecasting and 22% with de-listing.
The most reported issue in 2014 – forensic auditing – which 45% of suppliers highlighted, is now at just 5%.
Ms Tacon explained that the survey period included three weeks when the sector was under huge pressure brought on by the Covid-19 crisis.
"The data shows no adverse impact on compliance with the Code as retailers and suppliers raced to keep supermarket shelves filled," she said.
"Indeed it corroborates my own discussions with the retailers who have told me not one supplier has raised an issue with their Code Compliance Officers or asked for an issue to be escalated.
"I made it clear in my position statement issued on 17 March that suppliers should not wait to raise issues with retailers."
Ms Tacon said the Code had provided the flexibility retailers need to maintain a 'vital' and 'efficient' supply chain that is getting groceries to the consumer.
The GCA will publish more information, including how suppliers rank the retailers for Code compliance, in the coming week.