The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has briefed members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food & the Marine of the Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) used by retailers in their dealings with producers, and has called for an independent regulator.
IFA President Joe Healy outlined the draft EU Directive on this area and urged the Government to adopt its recommendations, as soon as it is enacted.
“The 2017 CAP Consultation showed that 97% of EU consumers are in favour of the farmer getting a better share of the retail price,” Healy told the Joint Oireachtas Committee.
“Irish farmers produce some of the best food in the world and what we are seeking in return, is a fair price, nothing more and nothing less. The retailer gets 51% of the final price, the processor gets 28%, but the farmer only gets 21%.”
Strong & Independent
Healy called for a ‘strong, independent’ retail regulator, a role he said is urgently needed to protect producers against UTPs.
This role currently belongs to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
“The single biggest issue for farmers is that they have no confidence in the CCPC to enforce the regulation as it stands,” Healy explained.
He highlighted simple, everyday examples of UTPs such as; late payments, cancellation at short notice of perishable food product order and changing terms of a contract without any notice.
“This is going on all the time and the CCPC is just sitting on its hands,” he said.
He did note that the CCPC announced in September that it was about to start inspections in the grocery sector to ensure traders are complying with their obligations, but Healy said that this should have happened much sooner.
“These regulations were introduced in April 2016, and most farmers either supplying the retailers directly or indirectly through a wholesaler, have no contracts. This is a blatant breach of the Regulations and the CCPC have been invisible in the policing and enforcing of them,” he said.
Abuse Of Power
Healy highlighted that in Ireland, the three biggest retailers – Tesco, Supervalu / Centra and Dunnes control 70% market share, adding Aldi and Lidl into the mix brings this to 94%.
Healy noted that in situations like this across Europe, retailers who dominate the market to this extent abuse their power to drive prices to the floor, in some cases to below the cost of production.
“The establishment by the Government of a visible and active independent Retail Regulator would give confidence to farmers that their complaints would be taken seriously and pursued,” Healy concluded.
“The proposed Directive holds up the UK model as the best practice, and this is the model that IFA wants the Irish Government to follow.”
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.