Addressing the IFA retail conference Getting Fairness for Farmers in the Food Chain in Dublin today, IFA President Joe Healy said the UK model of retail regulation should be replicated by the Irish Government if it’s serious about giving farmers and suppliers are to get fair play in the food supply chain.
The Irish Grocery Goods Regulations are in place since 2016 and most farmers either supplying the retailers directly or indirectly through a wholesaler, have no contracts.
This is a blatant breach of the Regulations and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has been invisible in the policing and enforcing of them.
Joe Healy said the record of the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator over the last five years shows the positive impact of an independent and robust regulator. Among the key outcomes are:
- Number of suppliers with Code-related issues has halved in the period from 2014-2019
- Significant reduction in common complaints such as delay in payments. ‘pay-to-stay’, de-listing, variation in agreements and contribution to marketing costs
- Majority of retailers scored over 90% in terms of compliance with the Code
“Christine Tacon’s office has brought about fundamental change to how the food chain works in the UK market, giving suppliers the confidence to call out problems and using her powers to adjust the mindset of how retailers treat farmers. This model is something that farmers here could put their faith in. They would not have trust in the CCPC, which hasn’t shown any interest in supporting suppliers,” he said.
As we approach the Christmas period, Joe Healy said he wanted to put down a marker: any action by retailers, to sell Irish produce below the cost of production, will not be tolerated.
Such action by retailers in the run-up to Christmas in the past had a very negative effect on the wholesale sector and farmers have seen this avenue of sales vanish. Retailers claim that they pick up the cost of these ‘crash-price promotions’. The reality is that below-cost selling means a lower price across the board for our produce.