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IFA Horticulture Chairman Paul Brophy is calling on retailers, facilitators and the foodservice sector to support vegetable producers who are currently facing an income crisis due to a combination of atypical weather, rising input costs, and labour issues.

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Once again, the grocery market during the recent Christmas season saw too many instances of extreme below-cost selling (also known as predatory pricing) in fresh produce across Ireland and the UK. It was particularly excessive in Northern Ireland and across the UK, with prices as low as 19p for products in some outlets which represented only 10%-20% of the normal retail price.

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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.

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While promotions have always been a part of retail sales, the practice of below cost sales has brought a new and potentially terminal threat to the Irish fruit and vegetable sector.

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IFA President Eddie Downey has warned retailers against discounting of fresh produce in the run-up to Christmas, where growers are used as pawns in a vicious battle over market share. He said, “The use of below-cost selling of farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers. These growers have invested hugely in their farm businesses to supply a plentiful crop of fresh Irish produce for Christmas. Retailers have to respect this investment”.

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