The long awaited report came out today, the Competition Comission calls for a greater number of supermarkets to be built in the UK. This is despite evidence that the big four supermarkets share is ever increasing, suppliers and small buisness' are suffering.
Responding to today’s report, Dr Caroline Lucas, a member of the European Parliament’s influential Environment Committee said “The report is worryingly inconsistent. Although the chairman of the Commission claims he is “not happy” with the effects of large supermarkets on suppliers, he is calling for an increase in supermarket numbers.
“Earlier this month, I launched a Written Declaration - the Brussels' Parliament's equivalent of an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons - demanding the EU Commission examine whether supermarkets abuse their dominance, and propose tough new rules to protect rural economies and the environment.
“It is astonishing that the Commission is suggesting the creation of more supermarkets, when what we should be doing is shifting to more local and organic production if we are to break the growing dependence of supermarkets on dwindling fossil fuels and avoid nasty food shocks in the future.”
“The Competition Commission has repeatedly shown its impotency where supermarket regulation is concerned and simply refuses to accept the reality that these superstores are a drain on our societies and on our environment.
The four largest supermarkets in the UK - Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco - together now account for nearly three-quarters of all grocery sales at supermarkets and convenience stores. Three UK supermarkets control almost a quarter of the UK's clothing market between them and this is growing rapidly, forcing smaller retailers out of business.
Dr Lucas commented: “The grocery market in the UK is dominated by large supermarkets, which can lead to higher prices and less consumer choice.
Their massive scale and reliance on practices means they depend upon fossil fuels for transport, fertilisers and copious amounts of packaging.
“A fifth of all car journeys in the UK are either to or from a supermarket, a situation that only worsen if their numbers increase.
“The Government should establish a separate Royal Commission on Food Security to propose ways of boosting local producers and suppliers, as well as the growing organic sector.
"The final recommendations of the Competition Commission report are due to be published in March 2008. In the meantime, the government must investigate the sector further and propose stronger planning policies to deal with any such abuses it finds - protecting our already beleaguered and usually under-rewarded farmers, the environment and rural communities."
Dr Caroline Lucas is a Green Party MEP for the South East and the Green parliamentary candidate for the Brighton Pavilion Constituency. She was named Politician of the Year in the Observer Ethical Awards 2007.
For more information on the work of Dr Lucas MEP, www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk
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