The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has welcomed the EU’s announcement that it will introduce measures to improve price transparency – however, the group has also issued a warning.

Pat McCormack – the association’s president – has claimed that processors and retailers will attempt to block the implementation of the new measures.

He also pointed to the need for Government here to “fully support” the proposals – on the matter – from European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.

“Going on past bitter experience, I have no doubt that there will be an attempt by processor and retailer representatives and lobbyists to block this proposal using every sort of excuse,” said McCormack.

It is essential that our Government fully supports Commissioner Hogan’s proposal and – once and for all – provide clear and transparent information to producers and consumers regarding the pricing of their food along the supply chain.

He went on to say that, while the proposals were “most certainly a step in the right direction”, ensuring and allowing producers and consumers to see the pricing structures was “only fair”.

“For too long, the links further along the supply chain have been preaching at farmers regarding their efficiencies and quoting published farmgate prices,” he added.

“At the same time they are refusing point blank to reveal their own selling prices and margins, and lobbying furiously against any attempt to make those transparent.

All elements in the food supply chain…should be legally required to publish their purchasing and selling prices, as well as the sources of the produce so that producers and consumers can clearly see who is getting what and where their food is coming from.

McCormack, meanwhile, highlighted that the last 10 years have seen “unprecedented volatility” in farmgate prices – without, he said, any corresponding fluctuations in consumer price.

“This could only mean that someone along the food supply chain has gained substantially at farmers’ expense when farmgate prices were low,” he claimed, adding that this practice, if it is going on, “needs to be exposed”.

ICMSA’s president concluded: “This has been talked about for far too long with no action. Commissioner Hogan’s announcement is a positive step and must be delivered comprehensively with no ‘get out’ available to the processors or retailers.”