The President of ICMSA, John Comer, has said that farmers ‘on the ground’ have no doubt that a very significant factor in this week’s ‘burger’ controversy and other previous food controversies are a direct result of the relentless pressure being exerted on processors throughout the EU by the massive multiples to supply food at cheaper and cheaper prices.
Mr Comer said that this ‘relentless’ drive to unrealistically “bigger, cheaper, faster” food is the overall source of the problem.
“The huge and practically unsupervised power of the multinational multiples is the key factor in the drive for cheaper and cheaper food and this sole focus has to eventually tell at some interim stage between the farmer’s gate and the consumer’s purchase.
“Ireland’s farm and food sector already meets and exceeds every international standard for food safety, but the almost fanatical quest to supply food at less than the costs of production must inevitably mean that standards are applied elsewhere that would not meet the standards and quality controls to which we adhere”, said the ICMSA President
“It is reassuring that Ireland’s inspection regime has identified this problem and has now established that the offending product was – so far as we can tell at this stage - imported material. But it’s still very disappointing for Irish farmers that our industry has been undermined in this way. Irish farmers rightly point to the massive level of on-farm regulation and checks and they are now insisting that those further up the chain must now provide clear and verifiable guarantees to prevent a recurrence of what happened this week.
“Irish farmers and processors have invested heavily in developing our excellent reputation as a food producer and we cannot allow this to be undermined by what at this stage appears to be imported materials”, he continued.
“ICMSA is firmly of the opinion that the root cause of very many – if not all – of these food health scandals is the overwhelming power of the multinational multiples who insist on selling food cheaper and cheaper, while jealously guarding their own margins.
“The pressure is then turned completely on the processors.
“The overall answer is much closer regulation of the food retail sector and specifically the drive to force farmers and processors to supply food at unworkably low prices that then allow the multiples to offer the products to consumers at discount prices while keeping their own margins intact.
“ICMSA is not saying that supermarkets are the problem in this or other cases, but we are saying that this is where the problem is originating and the answer can only come at that level and from the EU”, said Mr Comer.