Government to act on grocery selling practises

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has confirmed to AgriLand that it is to introduce a Consumer and Competition Bill, which is expected to be published shortly.

The legislation will provide for the regulation of certain practices in the grocery goods sector. Among other things it is expected to regulate the form of contracts and specify circumstances in which contracts can be varied.

It is proposed that the merged Consumer and Competition body will enforce the regulations. This body is considered the appropriate body to regulate in this area given its proposed consumer protection and competition remit.

The Department issued the statement in the wake of the protests held by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) yesterday outside its headquarters in Dublin.

A spokesperson added: “The Minister or the Department did not receive a request from the IFA to meet during yesterday’s protest.”

Addressing the aforementioned protest, president John Bryan said robust legislation backed up by an effective and independent Ombudsman must address the below-cost selling of fresh food, whether it be fresh produce, meats for dairy products.

“The decisions of multiples such as Dunnes and Lidl set in train a sequence of events that has undermined the livelihoods of hundreds of vegetable and potato growers and small, family-run fruit and veg shops around the country. It is also very disappointing that other retailers felt the need to match these ludicrous prices.”

IFA’s president elect Eddie Downey questioned why the German discounters are not giving away dry, non-perishable goods that they enthusiastically import, and make massive margins on.

He said it would be very naïve to think that retailers were footing the bill for this ‘promotion’

“Have no doubt, the same retailers will make back this reduction many times over, either by upping the price on other lines or by demanding a contribution from others in the food supply chain. Either way, they will not take a hit on their profits,” he added.

Eddie Downey also said it is unforgiveable that at this critical time for growers, and when consumers are willing to pay a realistic price for Irish produce, that a price war between the retailers should denigrate the value and work of a sector of Irish farming that is already under pressure due to rising costs and downward pressure on prices.

The IFA then went on to hold protests outside Dunnes, Ldl and Aldi stores in the greater Dublin area.