Farmers gathered at two supermarkets today following accusations the retailer failed to give price increases to agricultural suppliers despite soaring input costs.
As farmers gathered outside Dunnes stores in Bishopstown, Co Cork and the town of Monaghan, Irish Farmers Association chairman Tim Cullinan said the pork, poultry and horticulture sectors were in “collapse” and that retailers “must act responsibly”.
In Bishopstown, Mr Cullinan, along with IFA Poultry President Nigel Sweetman and Pork President Roy Gallie, led the protest.
“We sat down with other retailers last week to highlight the serious loss-making situation many farmers are in due to escalating costs,” Cullinan said.
“However, Dunnes Stores did not even respond to IFA meeting requests.”
It is understood that the management of Tesco, SuperValu, Centra and Lidl have met with farmers and listened to their concerns about production costs and the impact on the viability of their businesses.
A substantial part of the production from these sectors is sold on retail shelves in Ireland, Mr Cullinan added.
“These important players in the retail sector have an essential role.
Mr Cullinan said the government’s ‘inaction’ on retail legislation to introduce the long-promised food ombudsman has left farmers ‘powerless’ in the food chain.
‘Every link in the food chain deserves to have its cost recognized and to have the ability to recoup those costs, otherwise Ireland’s food production system will fail,’ he said.
“The retail grocery market in Ireland is dominated by five large retailers, who control 90% of the market.
“Unless we have strong regulation of these retailers, we will see more and more farmers going to the wall,” he said.
Dunnes Stores has been contacted for response.