(Ottawa) Efforts to develop a Canadian code of conduct for grocery stores have reached an important milestone with a proposed final version that includes a process to resolve disputes and impose penalties on systemic violators of the code.

However, the wording of a copy of the proposed code obtained by The Canadian Press does not go so far as to impose fines on companies that do not adhere to its principles.

Still, Michael Graydon, co-chair of the steering committee overseeing the code, believes the voluntary code has a number of potential disincentives to encourage compliance, such as potentially telling the public about recurring “bad behavior.”

Mr. Graydon, CEO of the Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada (FSPC) supplier industry group, says the proposed code has teeth, although it may not be as severe as some had hoped.

He believes the grocery code is fundamentally about “good business practices”, removing irritants from the grocery supply chain, and creating a better balance in the relationship between suppliers and retailers. .

The industry committee working on the grocery code was created in response to contentious fees charged to suppliers by major grocery retailers.

Gary Sands, senior vice-president of public policy for the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, says the code aims to treat all members of the industry equally.

“There is no distinction between small players or big players,” he said. Everyone is treated the same. »

The industry-led code of conduct for grocery stores has been proposed as a way to address long-standing issues such as arbitrary fees, cost increases imposed without notice and late payments.

The code aims to provide retailers and suppliers with a mechanism for how fees and fines are collected in the grocery industry, among other guiding principles.

A consultation process on the proposed code is open to members of the food industry until May 30.