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Legislation due as concerns about 'vegetable price war' grow

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that a new code of conduct to protect primary producers will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Image: Vegetables via Shutterstock

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised about a vegetable ‘price war’ in Ireland’s supermarkets.

The incoming president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Eddie Downey has drawn attention to the below-cost selling of fruit and vegetables, and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has said he is “right to be concerned”.

Speaking to Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, Coveney said:

We are seeing at the moment a very aggressive price war where supermarkets and retailers are using vegetables to a certain extent as a loss leader to get people in to shop in their stores.

He said that the primary producers of those products are put under huge pressure when that happens.

As a result, the government promised to introduce a mandatory code of conduct between retailers and primary producers to protect producers from unfair treatment from retailers.

This legislation is due within weeks, said Coveney, adding: “I think we will get some relief from that”.

He said that if the legislation does not appear within weeks, “we’ll certainly see it in January or February” and that it was part of the Programme for Government.

The legislation will not set prices, but will protect primary producers and ensure that the contracts they sign are fully respected. Coveney said that things like “hello money” and having to buy shelf space will also be controlled.

The aim is to “ensure when retailers and primary producers sign contracts of agreement that those contracts are fully respected”, said the Minister.

Read: Supermarkets turn to crooked fruit and ugly vegetables to fight food waste>

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