Ireland needs to follow the UK’s example and create a strong, independent grocery ombudsman, says IFA national chairman, Jer Bergin.
The IFA has conducted a sustained campaign for an independent retail ombudsman in recent years, and for a strong retail ethics code.
The farmer representative group has made the nomination of a retail ombudsman as a key demand in its general election 2016 manifesto.
Jer Bergin said: “In Ireland and at EU level, there is a major imbalance of power in the food-supply chain between retailers on the one hand and processors, suppliers and primary producers on the other.
“The small number of large retailers clearly have excessive buying power and the ability to dictate prices levels back to farmers, often driving prices to uneconomic levels and even below the cost of production.
“While the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 has begun to address the issue of retailer regulation, the Grocery Code Regulations have yet to be published.
“These will provide some contractual guarantees between producers and retailers, however the UK experience shows that a strong, Independent Retail Ombudsman is needed to deal firmly with retailer multinationals.”
The IFA praised the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, who yesterday issued a report criticising Tesco.
She found extensive evidence that the supermarket chain had acted unreasonably when delaying payments to suppliers. Tesco apologised for the practices, saying they had harmed its suppliers.
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