For several decades now supermarkets have taken over the way we eat, they promised cheap food and that is what they sell, but at what cost?
It all looks the same and by and large it tastes the same no matter what country you might be living in, but how many people ask how has this food been produced so cheaply, and by who?
As everyone knows farming is the starting point, animals are reared on farms, it may not be the type of farm that many people imagine a farm is, but it is still a farm, grain, fruit and veg are all grown on farms.
Wine comes from grapes, again a farm although not called such.. The producers of our basic food stuffs are by and large very hard working, and are always complaining that there is no money in farming. Well thanks to the super markets that provide the outlet for the farmers crops, there is indeed no money in farming or at least, very little for the farmer.
Last night we watched a program hi- lighting the plight of the Irish poultry farmer. Chickens sell in the major supermarkets at 6 euros, great for the consumer, but how much does the farmer get?
Just 37 cents! This is not clear profit either, the processor/ packers provide the farmers with the day old chicks and the feed and the poultry catchers, and this is a big part of the price of the chicken that appears in the supermarket, but nothing compared to the profit that the supermarket makes for their shareholders.
Out of the 37cents that the farmer receives he still has to pay the heating costs of the houses, the litter ( we are talking deep litter production here) general maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and cleaning out between flocks, disposal of the manure and bio security .
The processor/packer gets around 35% about 2.20 per bird which sounds good but they provide the birds, feed, catchers and megga investment in the processing plants and are major employers.
The supermarkets on the other hand make a whopping 58% on each bird produced, basically just for renting out their shelf space.
Most people are aware of fair trade goods, normally sugar, coco products and fruit juices, mainly from third world countries and parts of Africa, but is it not time that our own farmers are guaranteed a fair price for their product and a fair return for producing their products.
I know that this scandal does not just apply to the poultry industry, our own farmers must receive a decent price regardless of what country we live in, if they are not we will all find ourselves buying food from very dubious sources with no local production and land being left to revert to scrub land.
When we were producers we had a recommended retail price, we had worked out our cost of production , we then added the same amount again for our profit and reinvestment, we then used these figures for the recommended retail price, so our shops got one third, we had a profit of a third and the production was one third .
We did supply selected supermarkets, but on the understanding that they would not hike up the price, but we were dealing with the stores directly, not their central distribution offices. In the time we were producing we only had one shop that decided they would sell at a higher price than the one we recommended and they were not a supermarket. We withdrew our product as we did not want the consumer to be ripped off.
I don't know what the answer is to this problem, love them or hate them, supermarkets are here to stay and without them the farmers would have few options as to where to sell and would go out of business, but the writing is on the wall, it is only a matter of time before we lose our farmers and are entirely dependent on goods imported from far away. Supermarkets should be held to account, they should have some responsibility to their counties farmers and not just to their shareholders.
Each country needs a 'Fair Trade for our Own Farmers' campaign before we lose them forever.