Calls have been made by An Taisce proposal to require Ireland’s five largest retailers to display the amount they pay to farmers for certain foods – the ‘Primary Produce Amount’ – alongside the sales price.

It says the aim of the reform is to empower consumers to make an informed choice on below-cost selling.

An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland, says consumers are entitled to know whether the food they are buying is being sold below what farmers receive for producing it. So new legislation is needed to ensure large retailers display the rate they pay to farmers alongside the retail sales price.

“Recent surveys indicate that two thirds of consumers say that below-cost selling is against the long-term interests of customers while almost 90% back a call for new legislation to help ensure farmers get a fair price”, said James Nix, An Taisce’s Policy Director.

“The next step is to facilitate informed choice”, Mr Nix said, “and it will remain impossible to avoid below-cost food until the amount paid to the farmer is shown alongside the sales price”.

“The Government has the opportunity to aid informed choice. And ensuring the Primary Produce Amount is displayed alongside the sales price is a clear and tangible step that Ministers can take regarding the below-cost selling which is endangering Ireland’s horticulture sector”, he said.

In terms of the legislation itself, An Taisce suggests that it provide for:

A list of foods (e.g. carrots, onion, potatoes, sprouts) where the Primary Produce Amount must be displayed alongside the sales price,

The option to add to that list by Ministerial order, giving in-built flexibility to the system, and,

The law would apply to grocery retailers holding 5 per cent or more of the national market.

If the proposed legislation is accepted, the new law would apply to the big five grocery retailers – Tesco, SuperValu/Centra, Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl, all of which have market shares higher than 5%.