New regulations for the grocery sector signed into law

The rules cover areas around jobs, consumers and sustainable safe food

Grocery sector, new regulations, signed into law, Richard Bruton, suppliers, jobs, consumers

File photo of a man holding a basket in a supermarket | Image: Julien Behal / PA Wire/Press Association Images

New regulations for the grocery sector have been signed into law.

The new rules cover areas in the interests of jobs, consumers and sustainable safe food.

The regulations, signed into law by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, are aimed at re-balancing relationships between different players in the sector, ensuring that dealings are fair and sustainable.

Among the areas covered by the regulations, which cover food and drink products, are that grocery goods contracts will be required to be in writing, contracts cannot be varied or terminated without express consent of both parties, and that suppliers cannot be obliged to obtain goods or services from a third party from whom a retailer or wholesaler receives payment for this arrangement.

There are also provisions to deal with force majeure - non-performance due to circumstances beyond the parties' reasonable control - as well as new regulations that suppliers can require a retailer or wholesaler to a provide forecast of goods that will be needed.

They also state that suppliers must be paid for goods within 30 days.

The regulations will come into effect on April 30th 2016 to allow retailers and wholesalers time to ensure their systems and procedures are in order.

The EU Commission is also examining the issues of relationships in the food chain, and the Department of Enterprise says there may be "some initiatives forthcoming in 2016".

Minister Bruton said: "I am now signing an initial set of regulations into law which delivers on the government’s commitment in the Programme for Government and will guard against abuse".

"These regulations will focus on food and drink, which have clearly been the products on which there has been most concern expressed".