Almost 90% want legislation to ensure farmers receive fair price from supermarkets
31 March 2014
New consumer research carried out on behalf of Agri Aware by Ipsos MRBI reveals strong support among the Irish public for new legislation to ensure that farmers receive a fair price from supermarkets for their produce.
Vegetable price war
The Agri Aware survey comes after some of the country’s leading supermarkets waged a vegetable price war in the run-up to Christmas. Retailers sold produce, including carrots, onions and potatoes for as little as five cents per kilo. The promotion sparked fierce criticism from the Irish Farmers’ Association and others.
Almost nine out of 10 people who responded to the Agri Aware study said they think legislation should be introduced to ensure that farmers receive a fair price from supermarkets.
Just three in 10 people believe that below-cost selling of vegetables has long term benefits for consumers. In December, the National Consumer Agency drew criticism from farming groups when they described the price war as positive and said "I don’t think anyone has proved that there has been a downside". Agri Aware has now claimed its survey results show this is clearly not the view of the Irish public.
Quality more important than price
The Agri Aware study also found that 79% of the general public consider quality to be more important than price when purchasing food. Some 86% of respondents agreed that Irish farmers’ contribution to society is important; while the vast majority of respondents agreed that they are proud of Irish farmers (90%) and agreed that they play an important part in the Irish economy (92%).
Agri Aware’s chairman, Bernard Donohue said "Retailers must realise and take on board what the consumer wants. The below cost selling of food will leave both consumers and the primary producer as the long term losers. Furthermore, as the world population increases each day, with a projected nine billion people to feed by 2050, Irish farmers are and will continue to play a pivotal role in feeding the growing world population."
Regulator for beef sector
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív, has said the beef sector needs a regulator. In an Irish Examiner report, the Minister described the beef sector as an integral part of the Irish agri-food industry which is worth €2bn a year to the economy.
"However, over the past 12 months we have witnessed a collapse in bull beef prices with factories shifting the goal posts on producers," said Ó Cuiv. "Beef producers are being penalised by processors who are changing specifications of age and weight and refusing to slaughter cattle.
"This has caused prices to plummet. In fact, the traditional winter premium has completely disappeared.
"If the government is serious about achieving the Food Harvest 2020 targets for the beef industry and protecting the national herd, it needs to establish a beef regulator to balance the powers of processors and retailers," he added.