Growers fear impact of potential prolonged price competition between supermarkets

Concerns are mounting over the potential impact of prolonged supermarket price competition on growers who have seen costs rise but no improvement in returns.

Food prices fell by 0.9 per cent overall between September and October due in part to price competition between supermarkets, but the largest drops came in vegetables (2.4 per cent) and fruit (1.6 per cent).

According to the Office for National Statistics, which produces the figures: "Significant and widespread discounting by supermarkets and good harvests for certain produce led to a large number of downward effects."

English Apples & Pears chairman Adrian Barlow said: "October is when the main English varieties first hit the shelves in volume. We expect strong promotional activity then, and support their being made visible in-store.

"But this year prices have shown no increase, while production costs have increased by seven per cent, mainly due to the rising costs of energy and fuel."

He added: "We have to be realistic given the state of the economy. But unless we see an improvement in returns to growers, investment will be constrained, so ruling out any increase in apple and pear production."

Processed Vegetables Growers Association commercial manager Tim Mudge said: "This is not the first time the rate of inflation has been directly attributable to a price war between supermarkets.

"On this occasion they say they are funding it themselves, but suppliers say they are under pressure with margins - even though they haven't been told directly: 'You must fund this.' Their fuel and transport costs are still going up."

Consumer View - Unit price information 'unclear and inconsistent', says watchdog

The consumers' association Which? pointed out that "unclear and inconsistent" use of unit price information in supermarkets makes price comparisons unnecessarily difficult for shoppers.

It found different units were being used for different varieties of the same product, such as pre-packed onions being listed "per item" next to the loose equivalent being listed "per kilogram".

Unit price data was found to be lacking entirely in some promotional lines.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "We want to see retailers and the Government make urgent improvements so that consumers can compare like-for-like in the supermarket."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What challenges and opportunities lie in store for tomato growers?

What challenges and opportunities lie in store for tomato growers?

The British Tomato Growers Association (TGA) conference today (21 September) heard a range of perspectives on what changes lie in store for the sector and how to anticipate them.

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

As the British apple season begins, English Apples & Pears (EAP) is warning that growers will feel the effects of both a late frost in spring and also constrained labour supply.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon