BRC in dispute with retailers over food labelling

Food labelling practices in the UK are causing a furore amongst retailers. As a result Sainsbury’s have decided to suspend their membership of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) after an interview by BRC chief Kevin Hawkins appeared to back rival Tesco’s stance on the food labelling issue.
Recommendations made by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the food watchdog, that retailers use labelling of pre-packed foods using a ‘traffic light’ system have been rejected by Tesco.
Sainsbury’s on the other hand support the recommendations which would have red, amber and green signs on the front of processed food packaging indicating high, medium or low fat, salt and sugar levels.
In a statement made by Sainsbury’s regarding their suspension, “This follows concern about how the BRC is able to represent members effectively on issues where they hold significantly differing views.
“We have had concerns for a while, but the issue was highlighted most recently following the Food Standards Agency announcement on food labelling.”
The suspension comes following a number of disagreements between some members and the BRC. Sainsbury’s feels that they cannot be part of an organisation that has very different opinions to its members. The second largest grocer in the UK, Asda said they were not entirely in agreement with the BRCs recent response to an antitrust watchdogs’ decision to look into the competitiveness of the retail market.
In the current climate of a possible Competition Commission enquiry, the BRC cannot afford to lose the support of its biggest members which would damage them irreparably.

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