IFA President Joe Healy has accused Supervalu of acting unethically by offering customers free potatoes and carrots when they buy beef, which they are also promoting at a discounted price.
Joe Healy said, “This is a further example of why we need political intervention at EU and national level to have proper regulation in terms of farmers getting a fair share of the consumer price. In this case, there isn’t even a consumer price to get a share of. It demonstrates the need for a clear ban on below-cost selling of food”.
He said, “This sort of stunt is a race to the bottom. Farmers have little or no market power and they will ultimately bear the brunt of this type of unethical price promotion. Farmers and consumers would expect Supervalu to show a higher standard of corporate responsibility in line with their ‘community retailer’ ethos”.
Joe Healy yesterday chaired a workshop for the European Farmers Organisation (COPA) on the recently published Agri Markets Taskforce report, which deals with initiatives to ensure that farmers get a fairer share of the consumer price for their products. He said, “It’s hard to believe that as we are making significant progress at European level on restoring a fair margin for farmers, we have the largest Irish retailer behaving like this. Producers of fresh produce are rightly furious that their work and investment count for nothing in the eyes of Supervalu.”
Joe Healy said, “Farmers cannot produce for free. For example, the cost of production for carrots is 55c/kg. Retailers cannot pretend that promotions do not have a serious impact on the sales for other competing fresh products such as broccoli and cauliflower, the highly perishable nature of which means they cannot be held over until the promotion finishes. This distorts the market for everyone, regardless of whether your product is on promotion or not”.
The IFA President said he would be seeking an urgent meeting with Supervalu to warn about the grave consequences for Irish growers if retailers embark on a strategy of encouraging footfall by promoting quality food for free.