Federation of Wholesale Distributors

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According to its website, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) is a UK member organisation for wholesalers operating in the grocery and foodservice markets, who supply independent retailers and caterers. 1

Links to the Tobacco Industry

The FWD has tobacco companies in its associate membership. In October 2014, the FWD’s website listed British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, and Japan Tobacco International UK as associate members of the FWD.

Third party technique

Challenging the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision

In 2012, the European Commission published its proposal for a revision of the Tobacco Products Directive, the piece of legislation that regulates tobacco products in Europe. Among other things, the Commission proposed to introduce a tracking and tracing system and security features to combat illicit tobacco trade.

The tobacco industry has challenged this feature of the proposal, as has the FWD. In the November 2013 edition of the retail magazine Wholesale News , James Bielby, FWD’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), was quoted as saying that the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)’s proposal for the tracking and tracing system would place “an enormous burden on wholesalers to track tobacco products through the supply chain”. Without giving any evidence, he further warned that the tobacco market is increasingly being controlled by “criminals”, and that solutions should punish those criminals rather than those who are playing by the rules and are struggling
to compete in this market.2

Against Plain Packaging

Following the commencement of the public consultation on plain packaging in the UK on 16 April 2012, the FWD spoke out against the proposals. Speaking to retail magazine Talking Retail , the FWD warned that plain packaging would add an operational burden to wholesalers and their retail customers, while doing nothing to reduce smoking rates.3
CEO Bielby said:

“Removing clear identification of manufacturer, brand and price in the distribution chain cannot possibly affect the public’s attitude to smoking, but it will create operational difficulties, confusion and delay for both wholesale depot staff and their customers.”

In its submission to the consultation, British American Tobacco (BAT) cited Bielby’s quote as evidence to support its argument that plain packaging would cause a “detrimental impact on the efficiency of day-to-day operations.”4 However, the FWD does not cite any evidence to support its opinions.

TobaccoTactics Resources


  1. FWD website, undated, accessed November 2013
  2. Wholesale News . Trade rounds on EU tobacco proposals. November 2013, p4-5
  3. Talking Retail, Standardised tobacco packaging in wholesale ‘will not achieve government’s aims’, says FWD, 17 April 2012, accessed November 2013
  4. British American Tobacco, UK Standardised Packaging Consultation. Response of British American Tobacco UK Limited, 8 August 2012
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