Old fashioned price wars suggest not much has changed in the retail food market

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has expressed its dismay over reports that Tesco is demanding price cuts from its suppliers to allow the retailer to compete with other food retailers.

TFA chief executive, George Dunn, said “We have lulled ourselves into a false sense of security, in thinking that things had changed in the retail food market. Whilst there has been a greater degree of interest in provenance, food standards and food quality from consumers, retail barons are still fixated with driving down prices to unsustainable levels. British farmers produce food to some of the highest standards internationally, but this cannot be done if they are unable to secure a fair margin on that production. Retailers like Tesco should be looking at how they can cut costs in their own businesses, rather than trying to bully suppliers into accepting lower prices for high quality products”.

The TFA believes that these price battles go to the heart of the reason why we need legislative protection for our high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards, as we enter trading arrangements outside of historical links with the EU.

“I fear that some retailers wouldn’t hesitate to find ways of offering lower quality food on the shelves, just so that they can trumpet their low-price credentials. If the standards to which we produce food at home are at all important, they deserve statutory protection. With the Agriculture Bill entering its House of Lords Committee stage this week, there’s never been a better time for Parliament to ensure we have a resilient food system from farm to fork, with high standards and fair rewards for all throughout the food chain,” said Mr Dunn.

“This does not necessarily mean that we need to see higher prices on supermarket shelves. We need greater transparency within the supply chain to understand where the value in the chain goes. Within current retail prices there is sufficient headroom for all within the supply chain to earn a fair return. We should not allow those with the biggest influence to cream off an unfair share of value, to the detriment of the rest of the food chain and to wider society,” said Mr Dunn

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.