While consumers must be protected from soaring rises in food prices, efforts must also be doubled to ensure that farmers and food producers are protected from the ongoing practice of below-cost selling in major supermarkets.
So says Local TD Carol Nolan who was speaking during a Dáil debate on rising food prices.
The Deputy’s comments come after The Central Statistics Office confirmed in its latest consumer price index for March 2022, that food prices rose 6.7% in the last year.
Deputy Nolan said: “Families and people on low to middle incomes are being hit by a tsunami of prices rises right across the board on everything from food, to home heating, to energy, rent and education and health.
“It is therefore absolutely imperative that government takes whatever steps it can to protect them from the impact of all this.
“However, it is also clear that farmers and food producers continue to be confronted by the fact that below-cost selling continues as standard practice in many of the major multiples.
“The farmer and producer are experiencing massive hikes in the form of input costs, fertiliser price increases, green diesel and other agri contractor-related expenses but when they go to sell their goods, they continue to receive below the cost in return.
“I accept that some movement is being made in the form of the new Unfair Trading Practices Enforcement Authority.
“However, as Minister McConalogue made clear to me in a recent reply, only 14% of primary producers surveyed were aware of the fact that, as a supplier of agri-food product, they have legal protection against the 16 specific unfair trading practices, and only half of primary producers surveyed claim that they understand that the UTP Regulations protect against unfair trading practices.
“We must ensure that more farmers and producers know their rights and that they act in a concerted and unified fashion to force change on the below cost issue from the multiples, who will, let us be in no doubt, continue to rely on a lack of awareness to keep the status quo in place.
“The multiples and the major supermarkets must be the ones to absorb the brunt of the financial hit in the form of paying a decent price for quality Irish goods, not families, farmers and producers,” concluded Deputy Nolan.