IFA accuse Supervalu of behaving unethically with ‘FREE’ food giveaway

IFA President Joe Healy has accused Supervalu of acting unethically by offering customers free potatoes and carrots when they buy beef.

The supermarket is running the free food promotion with beef that is already being promoted at a discounted price, according to the IFA.

“This is a further example of why we need political intervention at EU and national level to have proper regulation in terms of farmers getting a fair share of the consumer price.

In this case, there isn’t even a consumer price to get a share of. It demonstrates the need for a clear ban on below-cost selling of food.

“This sort of stunt is a race to the bottom. Farmers have little or no market power and they will ultimately bear the brunt of this type of unethical price promotion,” he said.

Farmers and consumers would expect Supervalu to show a higher standard of corporate responsibility in line with their ‘community retailer’ ethos, he added.

Healy recently chaired a workshop in Brussels for the European Farmers Organisation (COPA) on the recently published Agri Markets Taskforce report, which deals with initiatives to ensure that farmers get a fairer share of the consumer price for their products.

It’s hard to believe that as we are making significant progress at European level on restoring a fair margin for farmers, we have the largest Irish retailer behaving like this.

“Producers of fresh produce are rightly furious that their work and investment counts for nothing in the eyes of Supervalu.

“Farmers cannot produce for free. For example, the cost of production for carrots is 55c/kg,” the IFA President said.

Retailers cannot pretend that promotions do not have a serious impact on the sales for other competing fresh products such as broccoli and cauliflower, according to Healy.

These other competing fresh products cannot be held over until the promotion finishes due to the highly perishable nature of the sector, he said.

This distorts the market for everyone, regardless of whether your product is on promotion or not.

The IFA President said he would be seeking an urgent meeting with Supervalu to warn about the grave consequences for Irish growers if retailers embark on a strategy of encouraging footfall by promoting quality food for free.

Entire cost of the promotion is funded by Supervalu

A spokesperson for the supermarket chain said: “the current promotional offer, designed as part of our ongoing effort to encourage consumers to cook with Irish produce, has been planned and agreed in consultation with our suppliers.

“The entire cost of this promotion is funded by SuperValu.

“As the number one supporter of the Irish agri-food industry, SuperValu sources from over 2,200 Irish suppliers – more than any other grocery retailer in the Irish market – equating to an annual economic contribution of €2.19 billion.

“We are committed to working with our suppliers to build long-term, sustainable partnerships,” the spokesperson concluded.