Agriculture Committee discusses pressure on pricing with supermarket representatives

6th March, 2013

 

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has met representatives of RGDATA and Retail Ireland on the challenges in the relationship between supermarkets and primary and secondary food producers.

Retail Ireland is the national representative body for the retail sector and includes the major supermarket groups among its membership, while RGDATA is representative group for Ireland’s independently family owned outlets.

Carlow TD and Vice Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Pat Deering, said “This meeting was the first in a series with retailers and their representative organisations. It was an opportunity for both groups to outline the challenges facing their sector as a result of the economic downturn. Committee Members pointed to the fact that grocery prices in Ireland are well above the European average.

“RGDATA are calling for a statutory code of conduct for the grocery goods sector while Retail Ireland outlined developments taking place right across European to implement a voluntary code agreed by all concerned, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Food labelling, which is very much a live issue and has caused considerable disquiet in recent months, was also discussed. Committee Members and retailers both agreed that downward pressure on pricing should not in any way compromise the integrity of the product being sold and that labelling systems must be improved EU-wide. Consumers must have confidence in what they are buying.

“We are committed to ensuring a level playing field for all smaller players. Pressure on pricing can be a two way process, larger suppliers pushing smaller retailers as well as larger multiples pushing smaller suppliers. We raised the issue that many smaller players were reluctant to discuss in public the pressures they face for fear of losing important contracts. The views expressed this afternoon, as well as at the meetings on the subject scheduled for the coming weeks, will form a Committee report on the matter.