Fischler suspects intermediaries in food chain of increasing profit margins Nerves are on edge in the British meat retail sector following news Brussels is to investigate German supermarkets' beef pricing practices. EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler claims retail prices for beef in Germany are too high and blames supermarkets for not passing on low farm gate prices to consumers. Fischler said in an interview with German weekly current affairs magazine Focus that the Commission intended to mount a detailed examination of beef price transmission from farm gate to retail. Five supermarket chains hold 90% of the retail food market in Germany. Fischler described this as a "worrying concentration of trade ...effectively five managers are deciding what goes on the shelves and at what price". The Commissioner said: "We don't want to pick anyone out in particular. "Rather, we will open the whole mechanism to scrutiny and show how to act against the limited competition." Wholesale market prices for beef have fallen by as much as 18% in Germany since the BSE crisis struck European markets last autumn, while retail prices have barely changed. Fischler suspects intermediaries in the food chain are increasing their profit margins to compensate for lower sales. Allegations of profiteering on meat have been levelled against UK supermarket operators by livestock producers for years and there have been recent signs of resentment increasing as a consequence of foot and mouth disease. The loudest protests so far are from sheep producers in Wales, who claim tumbling prices for lambs at the farm gate have not been matched by instore price reductions though there is abundant evidence of deep discounting by the multiples. {{M/E MEAT }}