Andrew Doyle TD, the chairman of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food & The Marine, has sought to clarify the government's statement last December that supermarkets 'agreed not to sell fruit and vegetables below cost' in the run up to Christmas.
Checkout wrote to Mr Doyle to notify him that "following our own consultation with the retailers mentioned in this release, we have received varying reports as to the level of commitment, if any, that was pledged by each.
"One retailer in particular told us that ‘below cost selling is part of how we operate’, noting that any such agreement would be rejected on competition grounds – it would be akin to a price-setting cartel."
In response, the Fine Gael TD told Checkout that underpinning the findings of the government's Report on the Grocery Goods sector "is the need to equitable food supply chain for all stakeholders. So it was in this spirit that the Committee agreed to issue a press statement following news reports of most major supermarket chains agreeing to avoid a vegetable price war (Supermarkets agree to avoid Christmas vegetable price war, Sunday Business Post, 17 November 2014). "The article states that Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and the Musgrave Group agreed not to engage in a price war, thus avoiding a repeat of a price way of Christmas 2013, which included selling Brussels sprouts at below the cost of production.
"The Committee is acutely aware of the pressures that were applied to vegetable growers by the large chains in past Christmases."
Mr Doyle did not address whether this level of commitment extended to an agreement not to sell fruit and vegetables below cost, as had been expressed in the Committee's previous statement.
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones