The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, said that the era of cheap food was over and that consumers waiting or expecting food process to revert to their previous levels would be “waiting in vain”.

Speaking at the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin today (June 20), McCormack said that much of the concerns being expressed around the surge in food prices was because consumers and corporate retailers had become used to simply passing their own financial preferences backwards onto the farmer primary-producer.

He said:

“The ‘cheap food’ era was ending anyway but the invasion of Ukraine has massively accelerated that process.

“The corporate retailers have lost the ability to dictate backwards on volumes and margins and the move to sustainability in going to mean that consumers are going to have to get used to paying the real costs of the food they want to consume.

“That’s not a explanation or an apology for the increased prices; it’s just going to be a fact of life,” said McCormack.

Food production

Speaking about the transition to lower emissions farming and food production, he said that this transition was already underway and some degree of patience was required to see if measures already introduced would work.

“Farming by its nature is a ‘years-in-advance’ process with decisions taken today only seeing results in two or three years,” he added.

“It’s just not possible for the Irish government to make environmental decisions on farming ‘on the hoof’ or in reaction to some panicky opinion article carried that day or week.

“We have to know that policy is considered and has a real understanding of all the issues at play.

“The rural communities that are wholly dependent economically, socially and demographically on commercial farming are entitled to that and ICMSA is going to insist they get it.”