What buyers need to know

If you are a buyer of agricultural or food products at any stage in the supply chain and where your annual turnover is greater than €2 million and is greater than that of any of your suppliers, then you need to ensure that supply agreements you have with these suppliers are fully compliant with the Unfair Trading Regulations.

Buyers should take appropriate steps to ensure that they are fully adhering to the Regulations. This can include, but is not limited to, a review of organisational policies, procedures and controls in the context of the requirements of the Regulations.

Buyers should understand that compliance with the Regulations goes beyond ensuring that supply agreements do not contain any prohibited clauses. Buyers can be found to have acted unfairly if the behaviour of the buyer or their staff breaches the Unfair Trading Regulations. Such behaviour could include:

  • Cancelling orders of perishable agri-food products at short notice.
  • Failure to make payments on time.
  • Requiring a supplier to pay for deterioration or loss of an agricultural or food product that occurred on buyer premises.
  • Refusing a request by a supplier to confirm the content of an oral supply agreement or an oral framework agreement in writing.
  • Threatening commercial retaliation against suppliers who exercise their contractual statutory rights.

To ensure that staff in a buyer’s business do not engage in behaviour that could lead to a breach of the Regulations, buyers should ensure appropriate dissemination of information on the Unfair Trading Regulations throughout their business.