Retail Ireland slams grocery sector overhaul plans

Retail Ireland has dismissed the findings of a grocery goods sector report, which was published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine this morning.

The committee has called for a statutory code of conduct in the grocery good sector, underpinned by an independent supermarket Ombudsman and with access to cost-effective legal supports for small and medium enterprises.

It also calls for legislation to be introduced to force the publication of profits and turnovers of the large multiples and large processors operating in Ireland.

Speaking to AgriLand, Retail Ireland director Stephen Lynam said the report was “misguided”.

“The farmers of Ireland won’t not be protected by a statutory code because retailers don’t buy directly from them in the main. They buy from wholesalers and processors. Those are the ones that are set to gain.”

In addition, Lynam insisted that consumers will not benefit from a statutory code of conduct.

“It will increase the cost of putting the products on the shelves and, therefore, it could see upward price pressure on staples that hard-pressed consumers need to purchase.”

In terms of own-branding, Lynam said it provides “value and choice to consumers’.

“We are confused that the committee took issue with own-branding. If the committee was to go out there and talk to consumers in a meaningful way, they would see that the level of owned-brand purchasing is relatively low compared to other countries. It provides value and choice to consumers. Owned-branded products are subject to the exact same laws as other products.”

In conclusion he said the committee’s heart was in the right place.

“It wants to protect the agri-food industry and farmers but it missed its target,” he claimed. “Retailers, who in the main do not have a commercial relationship with farmers, and it would also set a disadvantage to consumers if these recommendations were introduced.

Retail Ireland is the representative body for the entire retail sector in Ireland and is affiliated to IBEC. Its members have 3,000 shops, including department stores, DIY, electrical retailers, fashion and footwear retailers and major supermarket groups.

Related:
Review of retailer-supplier relationship under way
Calls for compulsory grocery code, tighter labelling, profit transparency and retail ombudsman
Irish food supply chain in the spotlight
Grocery goods sector by number

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