Multiples in the Irish Republic have again been accused of ripping off both consumers and farmers, with mark-ups on basic foodstuffs said to exceed 200%.
The hotly disputed claim has been made by the Republic’s main opposition party, Fine Gael, as part of its campaign against “rip-off Ireland”.
A supermarket survey it conducted found that on a basket of groceries costing l20.89, only l8.78 went to the farmer, representing an average mark-up of 137%, according to spokesman Denis Naughten.
The highest mark-up was on milk, he said, which retailed at an average of 85c a litre while the farmer got just 27c, a mark-up of 214%. On cabbage - “a product that requires no further processing” - the mark-up was 176%, while a dozen eggs cost the consumer l3.56, a mark-up of 169% on the price to the farmer of l1.32.
According to Naughten, of the three multiples surveyed, Superquinn had the highest individual mark-up, with 256% on a kilo of beef, the highest overall figure, and a mark-up of 157% on the basket of groceries. Next highest for a basket was Dunnes, at 135%, followed by Tesco at 120%.
Presenting the findings at a Dublin press conference, he claimed retailers were making “huge profits” at the expense of consumers and farmers.
But Retail Ireland, representing the multiples, said the findings were “misinformed and flawed”. It pointed to costs incurred after food left the farm gate such as transport, storage, processing, packaging, refrigeration and promotion.
The latest consumer price index had shown Irish food prices falling by 1.4% over the past year, at a time when inflation rose 2%. “This stands on its head allegations that the retail sector is profiteering,” said Retail Ireland director Torlach Denihan.