Frozen food chain 'charging Irish shoppers more'

 

THE ICELAND supermarket chain has been accused of charging Irish consumers almost 20 per cent more than British shoppers after sterling prices are converted to euro.

The Irish Farmers Association said its research had found an average 18 per cent difference between the sterling price on products and the price in euro charged at the till.

IFA president John Bryan called on the National Consumer Agency and on Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton to investigate these “objectionable and confusing pricing policies”.

He also claimed the supermarket chain had failed to genuinely engage with the Republic’s food suppliers and said the chain was “a conduit for imports”.

Iceland has traditionally been associated with selling frozen foods but it also sells fresh and non-chilled foods.

On January 23rd, it was selling one kilo of carrots for £1 and charging €1.50. According to the exchange rate on the day it should have been charging €1.20, according to IFA. On the same day it was selling a 900g bag of frozen petit pois for £1.50 but charging €2 instead of the €1.79 suggested by the exchange rate.

Six pork loin steaks were selling for £4 which should have converted to €4.78, but the price charged was €5.50.

A ready-meal chicken bhuna was priced at £1 and cost €1.50 but IFA said the exchange rate suggested it should have been €1.20.

Mr Bryan said the policy of carrying the sterling price on products was confusing for consumers.

“This blatant and ambiguous dual-pricing practice is confusing and the exorbitant exchange rate flies in the face of the claims of Iceland to be a discount store,” he said. “The National Consumer Agency must investigate these practices urgently.”

He asked why Irish consumers were expected to pay nearly 20 per cent more than shoppers in Britain, and said consumers should be outraged.

“Iceland cannot blame higher costs here as they are benefiting from massively reduced rents in the retail sector.”

Mr Bryan was also critical of Iceland’s record in sourcing supplies from producers in this State.

“Most of the food in the stores is imported, including fresh produce readily available from Republic of Ireland suppliers, for example fresh beef, pork, poultry, milk and dairy, potatoes and seasonal vegetables,” he said.

“In these difficult times it is crucial for businesses which depend on Irish consumers to treat them respectfully and fairly, and to support jobs in local supplier companies.”

A spokesman for Iceland Foods rejected the claim that the chain did not support Irish suppliers.

“Iceland is in fact a major supporter of the Irish food industry and Irish agriculture, buying very substantial quantities of frozen pastry products, ready meals, bacon and poultry from Irish suppliers, including Green Isle Foods, Kerry Foods, Callan Bacon and Carton Brothers.”

The spokesman said these Irish products were sold in all its 750 stores across the UK, as well as through its franchised stores in the Republic.

He said he could not comment on retail pricing in the Republic since the Irish Iceland stores were not owned and operated by the company but by its franchisee, the AIM Group.