About a year ago we wrote that the UK government was considering abolishing the Groceries Code Adjudicator (and not for the first time) and transferring its powers to the CMA.  The proposal was part of the wider statutory review of the GCA.

The government’s review has now been published and it has concluded that “the overwhelming view of retailers, suppliers and others is that the GCA is a highly regarded, efficient and effective regulator”. The review found that the GCA, through its “balanced and collaborative approach” can efficiently resolve issues, which is appreciated by the sector.

It also highlighted the impact of external factors including the pandemic and the war in Ukraine which have led to issues, including inflationary pressures which increased tensions between suppliers and the designated retailers. The government believes that the GCA’s understanding of these issues and response to them, has “helped ensure that suppliers are given a fair hearing and that retailers are aware of their Code responsibilities.”

The government has concluded that retailers and suppliers alike value the GCA and the highly effective way it enforces the Code. The government agrees that it is still necessary to have an independent adjudicator and notes that despite the significant improvements in business behaviours since the introduction of the Code and the creation of the GCA, there remains a risk of poor practices re-emerging without an effective regulator to enforce the Code and address supplier concerns.

As well as developments with the GCA, the government has also proposed regulations to promote fairness and transparency for dairy sector. 

Finally, as we've mentioned elsewhere, the CMA has been busy reviewing the grocery sector and the advertising of unit pricing, and we await possible further developments as the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill passes through the parliamentary process.