Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

Boyle demands EU pressure to curb influence of supermarkets

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

PRESSURE needs to be put on the Competitions Authority and the EU Competitions Directorate to curb supermarket power in the agri-food sector, Professor Gerry Boyle told the Claremorris meeting.

The Teagasc director said the Competition Authority's emphasis so far had been exclusively on the actions of sellers rather than buyers. He said a change of policy was now required.

"There has been no Competition Authority action on buyers. All of their interest has been focused on the potential abuse of power by sellers," Prof Boyle stated.

The dominant position that retailers enjoy as price setters in the food industry needed to be highlighted and challenged, he added.

Prof Boyle said a parallel strategy of lobbying both the Competition Authority and the EU Competitions Directorate on this issue should now be adopted by both the food industry and farm organisations.

Jim Power, chief economist with Friends First, described the 'Tescoisation' of the Irish retail sector as the single biggest threat facing farmers.

Mr Power described as naive a suggestion from IFA president John Bryan that he will be able to deal with the supermarkets and secure better returns for farmers through discussions.

But this assessment was rejected by Mr Bryan. Most commentators questioned the IFA's strategy when the Brazilian beef campaign kicked off, he recalled.

Also Read

But, by the end of that campaign, Brazilian beef was off the shelves of most European retail outlets, he pointed out.

The supermarkets would deal with farmers, Mr Bryan insisted, if they were "poked properly".

Mr Bryan last week met with the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan.

Mr Bryan said the Tánaiste recognised the concerns of primary producers and the major imbalance of power in the food chain between retailers on the one hand and processors, suppliers and primary producers on the other.

Mr Bryan welcomed the commitment of the Tánaiste to introduce a statutory code of practice and a retail ombudsman.

Irish Independent