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Minister Sargent Reminds Public That Irish Farmers Depend On Customers To Buy Irish

Current supermarket price war is threatening Irish vegetable production

The cost of producing vegetables and potatoes for Christmas this season rose substantially this year as fuel and fertilizer inputs last summer were bought when oil was at $147 a barrel.

The current price war between retailers is forcing farmers to accept payment for produce, which is below the cost of production. For example last Christmas farmers growing Brussels sprouts were paid €1.25 per kg for pre-packed Brussels sprouts. This year they needed a 25% increase to cover the increased cost of inputs. However, the current price being paid to the same farmers is now €1.05 for the same kg of pre-packed Brussels sprouts. While the cost of living has increased for everybody, a farmer is only receiving 20% more today than his father received for sprouts in 1980. By contrast, a car costs 500% more today than in 1980.

In making this point, Minister for Food, Trevor Sargent TD said, "The reality is that farmers are being shafted in the battle for supermarket retail market share. The jobs of 7,500 workers involved in horticulture are being put at risk by this short sighted policy. Farmers appreciate the loyalty and support of the Irish shopper for Irish grown food. This loyalty and support is now more essential than ever to save Irish jobs and to ensure the freshest possible produce is available on the Irish market. Imported produce has to travel further and can never compete for freshness".

Date Released: 19 December 2008