Calls for below-cost selling to be legislated

The new EU Commission must bring forward legislation to tackle unfair practices in the food supply chain that results in below-cost selling of fruit and vegetables and other products, Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael MEP for the Midlands North West has said.

The MEP said she will be pressing the Commission to give priority to the issue. “The voluntary code of conduct at EU level agreed between stakeholders in the supply chain is insufficient to deal with the issue. It is too little and too late,” she said.

“The new Commission needs to bring forward legislation to provide for a sustainable food supply chain, one that acknowledges the need for a fair return to producers and to everyone involved in the chain.

“Every EU country has concerns about the food supply chain and several have taken action at a national level but a coordinated European response is what is needed,” she said.

McGuinness said the below-cost selling arises from intense competitive pressure on the fruit and vegetable sector imposed by supermarkets fighting for customers.  “It is killing the sector, it is unsustainable and it will ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers,” the MEP warned.

“The key problem is the complete lack of transparency around pricing in supermarkets,” she said. “Special offers are attractive to consumers today, but someone must pay the price for these special offers.”