Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has met with the representatives of supermarkets ASDA and Tesco to question them on supply policies, delayed payments and prices paid to producers.
Commenting following the committee session Mr Irwin said the exchange with the retailer representatives was useful but added that the gulf in prices paid to producers, compared with prices paid by consumers, remains “hugely concerning”.
He said: “This was a useful opportunity for the committee to question the bigger retailers, in this case ASDA and Tesco, on their policies and to again relay the message that our agri-food producers remain concerned at the price gulf between what they are offered for their product at the farm gate and the prices on the supermarket shelf.
“Whilst I would concede there is an awareness of this reality by the supermarkets and there is no doubt, looking at the figures, that they are actively purchasing local produce - I remain of the view that much more could be done in terms of rebalancing the supply chain with the type of shift that would see our processor more fairly treated. That shift in approach by the big supermarkets and also the processors, really needs to happen in order to make our production sector sustainable.
“I will be meeting with the UK Grocery Code Adjudicator next month which will provide another useful opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing our farmers,” he added.