Addressing the National Potato Conference & Trade Show in Dublin today (Tues), IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin said the new Grocery Regulations will have to lead to a fundamental change by retailers and merchants when it comes to paying their suppliers promptly.
Growers surveyed by IFA report they have to wait between 45 and 90 days for payment, with some having to wait beyond this. He said, “Primary producers are vulnerable and there is a serious obligation on both merchants and retailers to step up to the mark and comply with the new legislation, which provides for payment within 30 days as a standard provision. The regulations also include the provision of contracts, which will provide security to growers”.
Jer Bergin said the issue for growers is two-fold: the unsustainable farmgate price and the delay in receiving payment. Growers get less than 30% of the consumer price, but they carry 80% of the cost of getting potatoes to consumers. This imbalance is unacceptable and threatens Irish potato producers.
The IFA National Chairman said pre-pack potatoes sell in the shops for five times the price (€1,500) per tonne paid to the producer, illustrating the huge gap that exists between what the consumer pays and the small share received by the grower.
IFA National Potato Chairman Eddie Doyle said this season has been better for growers, albeit on the back of two disastrous years for prices before then. “2015 saw the lowest plantings on record, which is not surprising given the poor prices in 2013 and 2014. We are currently at a sustainable acreage and growers should take this into account when planting this year.”
Eddie Doyle said IFA will be meeting with the major retailer bosses in the coming weeks to point out that growers cannot survive on the returns available at the moment, and to campaign for a standard provision of payment within 30 days.