Issued against a background of farmers’ distress over livestock
prices, the report from the Office of Fair Trading on the buying power
of top UK retailers sent journalists seeking quotes from the National
Farmers’ Union as well as those retailers investigated.
No one contested the main finding that supermarkets exercise enormous
buyer control, but all other allegations were countered by the
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) attacked the report as
ASDA took ownership of the low pricing issue. Other retailers claimed
that discounts are passed on, and the BRC promised to provide further
evidence about international prices. The Sunday Times, while
unenthusiastic about a Mergers and Monopolies Commission referral on the
’big four’ - Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury and Tesco - was the only paper to
counter arguments about international price comparability. But by Sunday
there was little reporting - price differences made sharper copy than
’consumer choice’, but solutions were never part of the story.
Broadcast and analysis by CARMA International.
Cuttings supplied by Broadcast Monitoring Company. ’What The Papers Say’
can be found at: www.carma.com.