There is now one month left for business-to-business buyers of agri-food products to ensure they are compliant with new regulations on unfair trading practices (UTPs) that are about to kick in.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has reminded buyers across the agricultural and food supply chain of their legal obligations under the regulations.

Under these rules, all supply agreements for agri-food products must fully comply with the provisions of the UTP regulations from April 28, 2022 – one month from today.

Speaking this morning, the minister said: “On April 28, last year, I signed into law the UTP regulations.

“Under these regulations, buyers have had a year-long lead-in period to ensure that their pre-existing supply agreements for agricultural and food products are brought into full compliance with the provisions,” he noted.

“I have issued frequent reminders over the last number of months on the need for buyers to be aware of this fact,” Minister McConalogue added.

“Let me be very clear. Buyers must use the next month to ensure that they have taken appropriate action to ensure full compliance with the regulations.”

He pointed out that the UTP Enforcement Authority remains available to assist buyers with any queries they may have to help them understand their obligations under the regulations.

According to the minister, the Authority will be following up any non-compliance matters brought to its attention by impacted suppliers.

Minister McConalogue also expressed thanks to the 3,200 people who completed the recent survey of primary producers, the purpose of which was to inform the UTP Enforcement Authority about any UTP-related issues farmers and fishers are facing, and whether their buyers are treating them fairly and lawfully.

The survey findings will be presented at the Enforcement Authority’s seminar to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the UTP regulations by the minister, which will be held on May 5.

The UTP regulations aim to protect farmers, farmers’ organisations and other weaker suppliers in the agricultural and food supply chain against stronger buyers by prohibiting 16 specific UTPs.

10 of these are prohibited in all circumstances (known as ‘black’ UTPs) and six are prohibited unless the parties agree clearly and unambiguously beforehand (known as ‘grey’ UTPs).

These UTPs are as follows:

  • ‘Black’ UTPs (prohibited in all circumstances):
    • Payment later than 30 days for perishable agricultural and food products;
    • Payment later than 60 days for other agricultural and food products;
    • Short-notice cancellations of perishable agricultural and food products;
    • Unilateral contract changes by the buyer;
    • Payment not related to a specific transaction;
    • Risk of loss and deterioration transferred to the supplier;
    • Refusal of written confirmation of a supply agreement by the buyer, despite request of the supplier;
    • Misuse of trade secrets by the buyer;
    • Commercial retaliation by the buyer;
    • Transferring the costs of examining customer complaints to the supplier.
  • ‘Grey’ UTPs (prohibited unless otherwise agreed by parties):
    • The buyer returns unsold products to the supplier without paying for those unsold products;
    • Payment by the supplier for stocking, display and listing;
    • Payment by the supplier for promotion;
    • Payment by the supplier for marketing;
    • Payment by the supplier for advertising;
    • Payment by the supplier for staff of the buyer and fitting out premises.