IFA says supermarket price war is 'outrageous'

Wednesday 18 December 2013 21.36
The IFA says farmers should be paid properly for their high standard of produce
The IFA says farmers should be paid properly for their high standard of produce

The Irish Farmers' Association has warned that food standards are likely to drop as a result of a pre-Christmas price war between supermarkets, which is driving down the cost of fruit and vegetables.

Sinn Féin has said the price war was ruining what should be one of the best weeks for Irish producers.

Newly-elected IFA President Eddie Downey said no one wanted a repeat of the horsemeat scandal and observed that when supermarkets demanded a cheaper product they got it.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Edition, Mr Downey described the price war as "outrageous" and warned that it could result in food standards dropping.

He said that Irish farmers had attained and were maintaining a high standard of produce and they should be paid properly for their crops.

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on agriculture and fisheries Martin Ferris claimed that German and Irish supermarkets were charging almost nothing for imported vegetables.

In those circumstances, he said, the growers were being squeezed out of the market.

Mr Ferris concluded that the feverish competition was a disaster for the small, local vegetable shops that could not hope to compete with the prices offered by the retail giants.

In a statement, Aldi said it was bearing the cost of its Super 6 promotion, where a range of fruit and vegetables are being sold for 6 cent each.

The retailer said it had agreed prices with its suppliers that "are fair for all parties", and said it is company policy to source its product range from Irish suppliers where possible.

It said that over 50% of is supplier spend is with Irish suppliers, producers and manufacturers and all the potatoes and as many of the carrots in the promotion as possible are sourced in the Republic.

Some carrots are sourced from France, due to customer demand, and the fruit on sale is being sourced from suppliers in a number of countries.

Aldi said it is meeting the IFA later this week to discuss any concerns the association has, but insisted that the "generalised allegations being made" are unfounded and not relevant to Aldi.

General Manager of Iverk Produce in Co Kilkenny Paul Brophy said that "neither we nor our suppliers are bearing the cost of the Aldi Super 6 promotion".

Iverk Produce supplies the majority of potatoes used in the promotion as well as all of the carrots, clementines and pineapples.

Mr Brophy said any current fluctuation in the cost price of potatoes is normal business and "unrelated to the current promotion. Aldi does not come back following any Super 6 promotion to seek to artificially reduce prices".