Amid congressional hearings, multi-agency investigations and industry debate, the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the first of three reports examining the nature of slotting fees and related retail promotional allowances.
uce grower/shippers, who have complained retailers are subjecting them to new trade practices.
Today's consolidated supermarket retailers have become "increasingly important produce buyers" who are emerging as an influential component in the changing structure of the produce industry, researchers stated.
In noting that large retailers have become direct produce buyers, researchers observed that "concurrently, new marketing and trade practices -- such as electronic data interchange and allowances for retail shelf space -- have developed between buyers and sellers, and have raised concerns about fair competition and practices with produce markets."
The report went on to state that the use and prevalence of various fees, allowances and incentives by produce buyers and sellers need to be documented and assessed. Documentation may be more difficult than anticipated: At least one other government agency ended research into slotting fees after it could not find enough retailers or grower/shippers willing to open their books.