Food Price Regulator Immediate Focus Must Be On Supply Chain Transparency
Commenting on the formal launch of An Rialálaí Agraibhia, the food regulator, the President of ICMSA, Mr. Pat McCormack said that the Regulator must send out a strong signal from ‘Day One’ that it is intent on exposing ‘margin-grabbing’ and delivering supply chain transparency if it is to win the confidence of the farmer primary-producer. He said that while all will welcome the establishment of the office, farmers are reserving their judgement on the regulator in the hope that “finally” meaningful attention will be directed towards food price transparency along the chain. The danger here, according to Mr. McCormack, is that the new office just joins the long list of toothless agencies that seem to stand by ‘wringing their hands’ when confronted with obvious unfairness and discrepancies in the pricing allocated to the different stages of the food supply chain.
Mr. McCormack said that the Minister has previously stated that ‘it will perform a price, market analysis and reporting function to bring greater transparency all along the agricultural and food supply chain, providing regular reports on price and market information on all sectors in the agri-food supply chain’. How this mission is implemented, Mr. McCormack said, will be the key first test of the regulator and will determine farmer confidence that the legislation can and will work in their interest.
“For too long, farmers have known the price they receive, and the consumer has known the price they pay but the bit in-between has been a mystery. ICMSA is firmly of the view that for the regulator to make a real impact, from Day One, it should publish monthly the prices received by the primary producer, the processor, the retailer and any other actors in the supply chain in a way that takes into account the uniqueness of each food product”, said Mr. McCormack.
As an example, Mr. McCormack cited the dairy sequence where the price paid to dairy farmers and by consumers is transparent, but what the processor receives and secondary processors – such as baby food manufacturers – is not. He said that these scenarios and the various products need to be investigated and monthly data published along the full supply chain towards answering the ultimate question: How is the final consumer price made up and who got what?
In relation to beef, a farmer sells a finished animal, while the consumer purchases specific cuts. He said that a significant body of work will be required so that farmers can transparently see where, when and who got the value from the animal that the farmers had finished. This is the degree of transparency required and simply rehashing or ‘churning’ already published data will not meet the requirements.
“The new regulator has an opportunity to make a real difference and food price transparency is going to be the key initial test, both in terms of overall supply-chain fairness and of producing sustainable food. Farmers have received many false promises on transparency and we sincerely hope that the new regulator will end that lamentable record in a very constructive way”, concluded Mr. McCormack.
Ends 13 December 2023.
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
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