Politicians and retailers in Ireland have clashed over claims of inflated profit margins on food.

Fine Gael, the main opposition party, said a price survey conducted at the three major multiples, Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn, showed mark-ups of more than 200% on staple lines.

A basket containing beef, milk, eggs and a range of veg cost €31.31, while the farmer got €13.07 - a profit of 140%, said Fine Gael. The margin on individual items was often higher. Cauliflower, for instance, earned the grower 50c a head but retailed at €1.55, a mark-up of 210%.

The party called on retailers to justify such mark-ups on items that required little or no processing.

But Retail Ireland said the findings were "grossly misleading" as they took no account of staff wages, rents, storage, refrigeration and distribution.