The impact of below-cost selling on Irish vegetable growers has been criticised in an unprecedented intervention by President Michael D Higgins.

In a thinly-veiled rebuke for retailers, President Higgins said vegetable prices were set artificially low by supermarkets in order to draw in customers.

“We should be doing all we can to address their [vegetable growers] needs, which are unique, including in terms of how often damaging retail practices have been for these producers – produce being sold as loss leaders,” President Higgins said at the launch of Bord Bia’s Bloom festival at the Phoenix Park last week.


Reacting to President Higgins’ remarks, the IFA urged the Government to take heed of his comments and make legislation around below-cost selling as “robust” as possible.

“The President is right to call this out. It diminishes the value of food in the eyes of consumers. It is destroying the horticulture sector and other sectors which are dependent on the domestic retail market,” IFA president Tim Cullinan said.

He added that retailers should also respond to the President’s remarks.

“Retailers like to tell us about their corporate responsibility programmes, but the reality is they use artificially-priced food as a loss leader to draw in footfall without consideration of the consequences,” Cullinan said.