This year, Checkout commemorates its 40th anniversary under its current ownership, and with this in mind, every week, Retail Intelligence is going to ‘reel in the years’ and publish a story from our extensive archives. This article from November 2000 looks at farmers venting their anger at milk price cuts in the retail space.
Pickets by dairy farmers on the Natural Dairies plant in Convoy, Co. Donegal, were lifted last month following rapid intervention in the dispute by the Competition Authority.
The Competition Authority obtained a High Court injunction against the farmers who were protesting at the sale of low cost milk from the dairy by Dunnes Stores.
As the pickets were lifted, Fred Revington, a spokesperson for the protesters, said farmers had no wish to be in conflict with the courts. “We have decided to suspend our action and have taken the view that in future, our target will be Dunnes Stores.”
IFA president Tom Parlon said the scenes in Convoy were directly attributable to the “reckless price pressure being applied by supermarkets on dairy suppliers". According to the IFA leader, 86p for 2 litres of milk is an “an unviable” price,” and if sustained, will wreck the liquid milk industry.
“The Competition Authority’s single agenda on prices at any cost is a crude and simplistic policy that plays into the hands of big multinationals, whose only interest is to maximise profits,” Parlon argued.
“The Competition Authority, while masquerading as the consumers’ friend, was relying on short-term gains while taking no account of the acute concentration that is occurring in the retail trade.
"This concentration means the power to control and fix prices lies in the hands of three or four individuals who can ruthlessly dictate conditions and terms of supply, but whose only agenda is to enhance their profits. A ridiculous situation has now been arrived at where milk is being priced as a loss leader below the cost of bottled water.”
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