Consumers are being urged by Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy to check twice to make sure the food they buy from retailers this Christmas is really Irish, and is priced in an economically sustainable manner.
Launching the IFA’s ‘Fairness for Farmers, Honesty for Consumers’ Christmas campaign today (Friday, December 8), Healy said: “Consumers value Irish-produced food and want to support Irish farmers.
Retailers know this and they exploit consumers’ good intentions by using misleading labelling and unsustainable discounting to lure customers.
Healy called retailers out on the use of ‘False Flag’ tricolour images and Irish sounding brand names to give the impression that food comes from Ireland and that – in buying it – consumers are supporting Irish farmers.
— Irish Farmers’ Assoc (@IFAmedia) December 8, 2017
He reminded consumers that the only labels they should trust to signify Irish origin are the Bord Bia Quality Mark – Origin Ireland and the National Dairy Council Guarantee.
Healy gave examples of retailers’ attempts to mislead and confuse their customers.
- Using tricolour images boasting ‘produced in Ireland’ or ‘processed in Ireland’ on non-Irish food;
- Selling products with Irish sounding brand names, some of which originate in Ireland and some of which do not;
- Using fake farm and creamery brand names to mask non-Irish product; and
- Displaying Irish product next to identically packed non-Irish product.
Expanding on this, Healy added: “Playing with perceptions is designed to mislead consumers. It denies them the opportunity to make informed choices and gives the impression the retailer cares about local suppliers when in reality there is no guarantee their suppliers are being paid a fair price.”
This word of caution follows on from an independent consumer survey commissioned by Agri Aware, which showed that the Irish public supports this country’s farmers.
Today Healy also called attention to the practice of unsustainable discounting by retailers and its impact for both farmers and consumers.
Citing recent examples such as selling fresh milk for 67c/L and major discounts on fresh vegetables, he urged consumers to reject prices that are too low, saying: “Prices that do not cover the true cost of production are unsustainable. This discounting lures customers in and gives shops an air of value, but it is bad for both suppliers and customers in the long run.
Unsustainable pricing leads to reduced farmgate prices, it puts primary producers out of business and it alters consumers’ perceptions of the value and cost of food.
“In addition, volume-based discounts encourage over-buying and cause food waste,” the president warned.
“In the long run, as domestic supplier numbers decline due to unsustainable pricing, customer choice will be restricted and retail prices may need to increase to secure supplies,” He said.
Healy concluded with a challenge for retailers: “Will you engage honest and sustainable retailing or will you continue scrapping for market share, attempting to fool consumers away from competing stores, while pushing down supplier prices?”