Addressing the protesters, IFA President Eddie Downey said the current behaviour of all the major retailers towards vegetable growers will ensure the extinction of this specialised production sector and prevent Irish consumers from getting premium quality vegetables, as they will be substituted by imports.
“Growers can no longer take the price reductions being sought by Aldi who have imposed on average a 10% cut in the farm gate price of main line vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, swedes, scallions and leeks year on year,” said Mr Downey.
The IFA President said, “In most cases, returns to growers are now at or below the cost of production, leaving no margin for re-investment, weather issues or variable yields. Supermarkets are very quick to wave the Irish flag and use individual growers for promotion, but it belies the actual situation, where growers will go to the wall if the race to the bottom does not stop”.
“It is obvious that last Christmas’s action by Aldi and other retailers to give away fresh produce is being paid for by growers and not the retailers as previously claimed by them. Aldi’s claim of loyalty to growers does not stand up, as evidenced by the price cuts being imposed on their loyal suppliers.”
At the protest, IFA Vegetable Chairman Matt Foley said if the major retail multiples in this country are serious about having a sustainable fresh produce sector and ensuring a reliable supply of safe, home-grown food, retailers must show greater responsibility and leadership for their actions. The sector is in on-going decline and without a change in attitude by retailers towers the primary producer, consumers will no doubt pay more in the long-term for imported produce” said Mr. Foley.
Matt Foley said, “Aldi is the sole customer for many of the country’s specialised vegetable growers, who have committed to long-term land leases and have invested in specialised machinery. To maximise efficiency, some of these growers now specialise in only one product line”.
“These growers cannot take the hit on price that Aldi is imposing on them. Committed growers need to make an economic margin above the cost of production to remain in business and re-invest for the future” said Mr. Foley.