The protests were held outside the main multiples in Ireland, such as Tesco Dunnes, Musgrave, Aldi and Lidl in hope of highlighting the price squeeze farmers were currently putting up with.
President of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) John Bryan explained that farmers’ backs were “to the wall” and they were no longer able to stand by and allow retailers to ignore the rising costs farmers were facing. He said: “Both retailers and processors will have to get used to paying producers higher farm-gate prices. This does not necessarily mean increases in consumer prices, as there has to be a better and fairer distribution of the final price back down the price chain. National and EU legislation is long overdue to restore equity in the food supply chain.”
According to Bryan the IFA had made it clear to retailers that production costs are escalating and causing problems on farms. He explained that feed, fuel and fertiliser costs had all risen to such an extent that it threatened the viability of family farms.
“In some cases, pig producers have been forced out because of the rocketing feed price. Retailers cannot continue to ignore the impact of these increases and must return a price that covers production costs and a margin,” said Bryan.
It wasn’t only the supermarkets that felt the brunt of the protest, as Bryan targeted the government for its lack of action. He said: “Fine Gael promised legislation that would see a code of conduct for the retail sector, backed up by an independent Ombudsman who would enforce the regulation.”
According to the IFA, the government has done nothing to deliver Fine Gael’s commitment, leading Bryan to call for immediate action.
Chairman of the National Pigs and Pigmeat Committee Tim Cullinan said: “The average retail price of pigmeat has been approximately €7/kg over the last number of years. Since September 2010, the average feed price for pigs has increased by a whopping 70%, while pig prices have increased by only 13% in the same period.”
Additionally IFA’s poultry chairman Alo Mohan explained that poultry products were being used as a “loss leader” at retail level. He said: “Quality chicken products bring customers into stores, boosting retailers’ profits, while producers are unable to recoup massive costs at farm level. Egg producers have been forced to carry the hike in feed, while retailers have resisted increases that are necessary to reflect this.”