The publication of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the Grocery Goods Sector, has been welcomed by the president of ICMSA, John Comer.
He said it represented a very significant acceptance at Oireachtas level of the grim reality that had farmers and primary food producers being left, effectively, at the mercy of what he called “gigantic multinational retail corporations” in terms of being paid a fair price for food produced to the highest levels of safety and excellence.
Mr Comer said that it was a bizarre paradox that had one of the most important areas of our lives – the buying and selling of food – being among the least regulated and supervised by our Government and subject to little, if any, intervention to ensure fair play for all the links in the food chain.
“ICMSA and others have been pointing out for a very long time that the power of the gigantic multinational retail corporations had grown to what were effectively cartel proportions.
“The big multiples are now in a position where they can ‘make’ their own market. They control such volumes that they can dictate the price ‘backwards’ through the processors to the farmers and ‘forwards’ to their customer-consumer. They’re effectively lowering or raising the price in both directions in a manner that ensures that while they always keep their margins, they are wiping out the margins of those supplying them,” he said.
Mr Comer said that two things needed to happen on foot of the report. Firstly, the Government needed to accept the recommendations and, most specifically, the expressed need for rules-based regulation and that must be introduced on a national basis as soon as possible. The second thing that must happen is that Ireland must put this matter squarely to the top of the EU’s agenda.
“we know through our membership of the EMB (European Milk Board) that the same pressure on farmers’ margins takes place all over the EU and quite often perpetrated by the same multinational retailers. There has to be collaboration and co-operation on this issue from all 28 Member States if we’re to get to that level of transparency that will show the farmer and consumer alike the composition of the margins in the food-chain. No Member State can do it alone but it urgently needs to happen,” stated Mr Comer.