Supermarkets have not used food price inflation to grow their profits, according to analysis by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA).

Speaking at Stormont last week, Lucy Eyre from the CMA maintained that recent rises in profits across some supermarket chains did not come from food sales.

“Profits [from groceries] had fallen quite a lot during the inflationary period, which suggests costs were rising and supermarkets were not able to pass on these cost rises completely to consumers,” she said.

Eyre told MLAs that “quite tough retail competition” between different supermarkets meant higher prices could not be passed on to consumers to increase profits.

“This reassured us that, at least at the level of retailers and supermarkets, they were not using the inflationary period to exploit consumers and raise prices unduly,” she said.

“We have not seen evidence that weak competition between retailers, or between food manufacturers, has materially contributed to food price inflation,” Eyre added.

During a questions session, Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott asked if the CMA would investigate trading practices within the food supply chain, particularly how it impacts farmers.

“There is absolutely no protection for primary producers. They just take what they get,” Elliott said.

In response, Eyre said the CMA was “aware” of the issues raised, but pointed out that the remit of the CMA is about ensuring “markets are working well for consumers”.