ICMSA President says “dishonesty” around complaints on food inflation – “People today are spending less than their parents spent 40 years ago”.


 The President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, has criticised what he described as a fundamental dishonesty that underpinned the current debate around food inflation and the reality that consumers are being ‘gouged’ on price by the corporate retailers.  Stating that from a producer perspective the multiple retailers have consistently abused their dominant position, Mr. McCormack said that it was “not his role or inclination” to come to the defence of the supermarkets, with whom he said he had spent his ICMSA career sparring and challenging.  But he said that, like all farmers, he had had to “bite his tongue” for the last fortnight as politicians and media commentators queued up to give the retailers ‘a kick’ and demand accountability and transparency on their margins and their composition of final retail price.

Mr. McCormack that that “of course” the retailers have been abusing their position – but they were allowed to do that just so long as they could make the farmers pay. Addressing all those people and commentators complaining about current food inflation, he asked who they thought had subsidising food the last 30 years when the CSO shows that the proportion of total household expenditure on food had halved?  As long as it was just the farmers being abused by the supermarkets, no-one seemed that bothered by how the retail price was put together, said Mr. McCormack

He said that while we did need the kind of proper investigation of retailer margin that ICMSA had been demanding for decades, that should not – and could not – obscure the fact that we were now at the question that policymakers had been dodging since they first targeted farming and food production for special restrictions in the name of sustainability and lowering carbon emissions.   

“It’s time for someone to point out to both consumers and politicians alike that they can’t have this both ways: they can’t have food at the kind of prices that they have become used to paying, while demanding that the farmers take land out of production and lower livestock numbers.  Something has got to give here and honestly – while it is merited and long overdue – the kind of outrage being directed at the supermarkets is not going to get us or anybody closer to the real answers around how we are going to square this circle”, said Mr. McCormack.

Calling on the politicians and policymakers to show some of the courage that they constantly urged on everyone else, Mr. McCormack said it was long past the time for someone in authority to “break the bad news” to consumers that saving the planet was going to cost everyone something and the idea that all the change was going to happen “from the supermarket fridge backwards to the farm” with no consequences for the consumers was both wrong and impossible.

Mr. McCormack said the statistical truth was that people were not over-paying now, rather they had been under-paying for decades.  

Ends       12 May 2023

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office