ICSA calls for the appointment of EU auditors to investigate the supermarkets

EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan must back up his promises to tackle the EU supermarkets’ buying practises with real action, according to ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch.

“Obviously, ICSA welcomes the commitment given to address the challenge posed by the supermarkets,” he said.

“But we have been here before. In the past the supermarkets had agreed to voluntary codes of practice. But these have turned out to be valueless in terms of the light they shone on their actual procurement practises.

“In light of these past experiences Brussels must appoint official auditors with the power to fully investigate food retail operations across all the member states.

“What we do know is that every grouping within the agri food industry can secure a margin from those organisations operating below them in the chain. The exception to this principle is production agriculture: farmers are the one grouping who cannot pass their costs on to suppliers. As a result, there is a total imbalance of power and influence within the food supply chain.”

The ICSA General Secretary said that the current inequity within the agri-food supply chain is also serving to devalue the EU monies that are used to fund the CAP.

“We have now ended up with the unfolding scenario of farmers using their single payments to bolster the fast eroding prices they receive for their produce. This was never meant to be the case.

“What farmers need is realistic prices and the opportunity to secure a sustainable future. To make this happen will require the advent of total transparency within the agri food chain.

“All of the costs incurred by farmers are quite easy to obtain. But the same cannot be said for the supermarkets. This situation must be changed as a matter of priority. And the only organisation with the power to effect this change is the European Commission.”