Call for statutory code of conduct in grocery sector

Friday 25 October 2013 11.00
The report recommends an independent Ombudsman to govern the relationship between food producers and supermarkets
The report recommends an independent Ombudsman to govern the relationship between food producers and supermarkets

The Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture Food and Marine has called for the introduction of a statutory code of conduct in the grocery sector.

It also wants an independent ombudsman to govern the relationship between food producers and supermarkets who buy their goods.

The recommendation comes following hearings the committee conducted on the subject earlier this year.

The report concludes that food producers are not getting fair treatment or fair prices for their goods.

It said large multiples and wholesalers appear to be exerting pressure on food processors who cut corners to make reasonable profits.

The report also found the rise of own brand goods has pushed down prices to consumers down, but allows retailers take greater profit margins.

Committee chairman Andrew Doyle said there was no need for consumers to end up paying more for their food purchases if the code was introduced.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Doyle said the recommendations were aimed at ensuring that there was transparency and equity between food producers, retailers and consumers.

He said that most people agreed that a code of practice was needed, but he said there was disagreement between stakeholders over whether it should be statutory and whether there should be an ombudsman dealing with the sector.

Elsewhere, the Director of Retail Ireland has said he believes customers stand to lose as a result of the statutory code of conduct.

Speaking on the same programme, Stephen Lynam said it is important to protect producers, but a statutory code would result in higher prices.

He said: "The committee and Deputy Doyle are right to try and protect farmers, but farmers aren't benefitting from this.

"It is the often very large multinational suppliers, producers and wholesalers who actually benefit.

"The people who'll lose are the customers and consumers at one end and farmers at the other."

In a statement, retail group Musgraves said any code of practise should be developed on a voluntary basis.

“We have concerns that introducing a national statutory code would create an extra layer of administration for retailers who deal with Irish suppliers and may actually exacerbate the situation.”

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ. Click here for Terms of use.