Small suppliers fight to secure shelf space

Small UK food suppliers are calling for a change in the law to ensure a statutory share of shelf space in major supermarkets.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for a variant on a French legal practice – where ten per cent of shelf space is dedicated to local suppliers – to be introduced in the UK.

The FSB will present evidence to the Competition Commission’s inquiry into the relationship between retailers and suppliers to support its demands that UK food suppliers be guaranteed a share of shelf space.

FSB spokesman David Hands says: “In France, supermarkets must give about ten per cent of shelf space to local suppliers.

“A similar move in the UK would help get local suppliers’ products into the multiples, as they don’t have anywhere near that much space at the moment.”

The FSB is seeking backing from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

NFU head of food and marketing Helen Lofor says: “This is a good idea in principle, and we’re making enquiries into it.

“Supermarkets seem to be developing more regional and local sourcing strategies, so perhaps the tide is turning in favour of smaller suppliers.”

A British Retail Consortium spokesman says: “France has a strong farming lobby and it doesn’t surprise me the law has been introduced there.

“The proportion of shelf space given to local suppliers in this country varies from chain to chain – but there have been moves to increase it.”

The Competition Commission says it cannot comment on any part of the inquiry, which is expected to be completed in April.

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