IFA President Joe Healy has urged consumers to check twice to make sure the food they buy this Christmas is really Irish, and is priced in an economically sustainable manner.
Launching the IFA’s Fairness for Farmers, Honesty for Consumers Christmas Campaign, Joe Healy said, “Consumers value Irish produced food and want to support Irish farmers. Retailers know this and they exploit consumers’ good intentions by using misleading labelling and unsustainable discounting to lure customers.”
Joe Healy called retailers out on the use of ‘False Flag’ tricolour images and Irish sounding brand names to give the impression that food comes from Ireland and that in buying it consumers are supporting Irish farmers.
He reminded consumers that the only labels they should trust to signify Irish origin are The Bord Bia Quality Mark – Origin Ireland and the National Dairy Council Guarantee.
Joe Healy gave examples of retailers’ attempts to mislead and confuse their customers including:
- using tricolour images boasting ‘produced in Ireland’ or ‘processed in Ireland’ on non-Irish food;
- selling products with Irish sounding brand names, some of which originate in Ireland and some of which do not;
- using fake farm and creamery brand names to mask non-Irish product; and,.
- displaying Irish product next to identically packed non-Irish product.
Joe Healy said, “Playing with perceptions is designed to mislead consumers. It denies them the opportunity to make informed choices and gives the impression the retailer cares about local suppliers when in reality there is no guarantee their suppliers are being paid a fair price.”
Joe Healy today also called attention to the practice of unsustainable discounting by retailers and its impact for both farmers and consumers.
Citing recent examples such as selling fresh milk for 67c/l and major discounts on fresh vegetables, he urged consumers to reject prices that are too low, saying, “Prices that do not cover the true cost of production are unsustainable. This discounting lures customers in and gives shops an air of value, but it is bad for both suppliers and customers in the long run.
“Unsustainable pricing leads to reduced farmgate prices, it puts primary producers out of business and it alters consumers’ perceptions of the value and cost of food. In addition, volume based discounts encourage over-buying and cause food waste.
“In the long run, as domestic supplier numbers decline due to unsustainable pricing, customer choice will be restricted and retail prices may need to increase to secure supplies,” Joe Healy warned.
The IFA President today challenged retailers: “Will you engage honest and sustainable retailing or will you continue scrapping for market share, attempting to fool consumers away from competing stores, while pushing down supplier prices?”