Supermarkets acting like 'Sopranos', says Gilmore
Published 27/03/2010 | 05:00
POWERFUL supermarkets such as Tesco are behaving like characters in 'The Sopranos' by "extorting" huge sums of money from Irish suppliers to stock their goods, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said yesterday.
He said the behaviour of the large multiples was outrageous, during a Labour Party conference on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.
"Powerful dominant players such as Tesco are extorting huge sums of money from Irish suppliers in exchange for the privilege of getting their food on to supermarket shelves. It is the kind of thing you would expect to see in 'The Sopranos'," he said.
Mr Gilmore said this was badly affecting suppliers, including farmers, who could not get their produce on to the shelves of major supermarkets.
Labour has not come up with detailed proposals on how to curb supermarket power, although Mr Gilmore has previously called for legislation outlawing unfair practices, arguing that a voluntary code of practice currently being drawn up by the Department of Enterprise was not enough to stop abuses.
Mr Gilmore said yesterday he was not opposed to the existence of large supermarket chains that had economies of scale to give consumers cheaper prices, but this ceased to be sustainable "when it begins to suck the life out of farm families and villages".
Tesco was asked to comment on Mr Gilmore's criticisms, but did not respond.
The Labour leader's attack on supermarkets came following recent reports that Tesco was demanding payments of up to €500,000 from grocery suppliers to keep their products on the shelves -- a practice that is not illegal under current legislation. A Dail committee report published this week also accused supermarkets of abusing suppliers and of taking profits three times higher than in other countries.
One supplier interviewed anonymously claimed that goods he supplied to Irish supermarkets were marked up by 45-50pc, compared with 32pc to 35pc in the UK.
Mr Gilmore called for forthcoming reforms of the CAP to be used to enhance rural life and support small businesses.