New law ‘within weeks’ to combat supermarket price wars

Minister says vegetable growers are ‘right to be concerned’ about below-cost selling

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has promised legislation to protect vegetable growers affected by supermarket price wars, will be published “within weeks, if not days”.

Speaking in Brussels this morning Mr Coveney said growers were “right to be concerned” at signs that some supermarkets were forcing down the price of vegetables as part of “an aggressive price war”.

The IFA has accused retailers of abusing potato growers in particular, by giveaway prices as part of a pre-Christmas price war.

Newly-elected president Eddie Downey said the widespread sale of very cheap fruit and vegetables by supermarkets was “unacceptable”, and that supermarkets were tearing apart the incomes of vegetable growers “because of an effort to get footfall across a multiple’s door”.


“We simply have to say, enough is enough,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Mr Coveney said such price wars put great strain on many growers who were reliant on a small number - or even one - retailer.

However he said the new legislation would not set minimum prices for vegetables.

But he said it would ensure that contracts agreed between producers and retailers were fully respected and there could be no charging producers for “hello money” or other payments for shelf space in supermarkets.”

“What it will do is that it will protect primary producers. It will protect the contracts that they sign

He told RTE’s Morning Ireland the legislation would reset the “power balance” between producers and retailers “through regulation and a mandatory code of conduct and that is the direction we are going in”.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist