The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) has announced a new pledge which aims to ensure suppliers are not at risk from potential negative consequences as a result of reporting a retailer-related issue.
All fourteen retailers covered by the Groceries Supply Code of Conduct have signed the agreement with the GCA.
It aims to ensure that suppliers "do not face negative consequences as a result of raising issues with the business directly or with the CCO (Code Compliance Officer)”.
The current GCA, Mark White said he hoped the announcement would provide assurance to suppliers that they could raise issues with retailers confidentially and without the concern about future supply, tenders or delisting as a direct consequence.
He said: “It is important that suppliers can speak honestly and frankly to the retailers when issues arise, so problems can be resolved as quickly as possible.
"Suppliers must be confident that they can do this without negative consequences for their business”.
Responding to the announcement, the NFU said it was important that suppliers could speak 'honestly and frankly' to retailers, so problems could be resolved as quickly as possible.
“We know UK farmers and growers are often fearful of raising issues with the GCA or COOs out of fear of repercussions," said NFU food business relationships advisor, Annabel Bagshaw.
"We are therefore pleased to see he has recognised this and is striving to improve supplier confidentiality, which we hope this will instil confidence in members to report issues when they do occur.
"We will continue to work closely with the GCA to ensure that our members' voices are heard and to feed into the flexible frameworks he is putting in place with the retailers."
It comes after the GCA launched its 2023 annual survey to gather key information on supplier relationships with retailers, with the NFU urging farmers to participate.
Launched on Monday 16 January, the GCA's online survey will be open for six weeks until 26 February 2023.