The grocery sector in Europe, arguably the most important for consumers, is facing unprecedented challenges in terms of climate change, higher global demand for food and increasing pressure on finite resources. At the same time consumers expect access to a wide range of products at competitive prices from a choice of outlets.

The policy implications underlying these challenges are growing in importance. The sector is coming under greater scrutiny at both European and national levels, in terms of the health of the supply chain and both retail and product competition in the marketplace. Such scrutiny provides a backdrop to this symposium which looks in particular at relationships between retailers and suppliers, competition between branded and private label products and the implications for shoppers. Competition between private labels and branded goods differs in important respects from the usual head-to-head competition between suppliers arising from the retailer?s dual role, with the retailer being at the same time important retail customer and direct (product) competitor.Meanwhile, competition authorities have expressed concerns over some adverse effects of buyer power, notably the transfer of excessive risks and unexpected costs to suppliers, undermining investments in product quality, range and innovation.

This symposium, the seventh to be hosted by the Oxford Institute of European and Comparative Law in conjunction with the Centre for Competition Law & Policy and sponsored by the law firm Bristows, will explore these issues and their implications for shoppers. The programme features two roundtable discussions, presenting an opportunity to hear from national competition authorities and officials. The event will be held under the Chatham House Rule1.

There is no charge to attend.