IFA: M&S below-cost selling is unethical

Below-cost selling of vegetables is unethical and unsustainable, according to IFA president Joe Healy
Below-cost selling of vegetables is unethical and unsustainable, according to IFA president Joe Healy

Irish Farmers' Association president Joe Healy has accused luxury food retailer M&S of "gross hypocrisy" in its slashing of prices of fresh produce to below production cost, which he says is unethical and will hurt growers, potentially driving them out of business.

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18 December 2018 | 0

IFA president Joe Healy has hit out at Marks & Spencer and what he calls “predatory pricing”, the practice of slashing prices to below the cost of production. Healy said that the idea of selling vegetables and potatoes below cost without hurting producers is a lie. Healy was addressing a protest at an M&S store in West Dublin.

“Using farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers and producers,” he said. “The number of field vegetable growers fell from 377 in 1999 to 165 in 2015, a drop of 56%. In that time, farmers have invested hugely in their businesses to ensure sufficient supply of fresh Irish produce.”

Healy said that retailers’ “predatory pricing” model takes the inherent value out of fresh produce lines, making it difficult to ensure sustainable gate prices and demeaning the category in the minds of consumers.

“This has been a very tough year on producers,” Healy said, “with significant extra costs because of the extreme winter weather, followed by drought conditions later. Reducing the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg sends a very misleading message to consumers regarding the costs, risks and skills associated with this sector.”

Joe Healy re-iterated the IFA’s call on the Enterprise Minister, Heather Humphreys T.D. to address the issue of below-cost selling immediately.

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