Canada-based grocery retailer Empire and trade association Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP) have jointly drafted a code of practice for the country’s food retail industry.

The proposed Grocery Supply Code of Practice would aim to promote fairness and transparency, calling for just and efficient handling of all negotiations and commercial agreements between retailers and suppliers.

The code would introduce a government adjudication system to manage complaints of unfair practices such as arbitrary fees, cost increases imposed without notice and late payments.

Empire president and CEO Michael Medline said: “The Canadian grocery industry made unprecedented strides in navigating the Covid-19 pandemic, with retailers and suppliers collaborating to protect the food supply chain and support customers like never before.

“We began working in earnest with the FHCP on this values-based proposal in the autumn. We hope our principled proposal will be a springboard to move our industry forward.

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“This code is a win for consumer product companies and retailers as well as all other players in the food supply chain, including farmers and customers.”

FHCP president and CEO Michael Graydon said: “As the early days of the pandemic proved, and as FHCP and Empire demonstrate so clearly today, grocery retailers and suppliers are capable of tremendous achievements when we collaborate.

“Retailers and suppliers are tough and savvy and our businesses do not always see eye to eye. However, we believe we can build a supply chain on mutual trust, which treats businesses of all sizes fairly and delivers for all Canadians who count on us every day.

“FHCP and Empire are proud to have translated this common vision into a set of shared principles and a positive framework for the industry.”

The proposal was formally submitted to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Working Group on 25 March for consultation.

Both FHCP and Empire have urged other grocers, suppliers and industry stakeholders to offer their feedback on the proposal.

This month, Empire acquired a majority stake in speciality grocery store chain Longo’s and its Grocery Gateway e-commerce business.