asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the hardship caused especially to the lower income groups by the continually increasing prices for meat and vegetables; and if there are any steps he can take to remedy this situation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meat and Vegetable Prices.
Prices paid to farmers for cattle and sheep and to vegetable growers are not within my control. At the retail level, butchers and vegetable dealers must move their prices in accordance with movements in the prices paid to the primary producer; they are also subject to the other cost increases experienced by all traders.
I am aware that meat prices have risen over a period. A survey of these prices is made by my Department from time to time. Unless the surveys, or other evidence, show an unwarranted increase in the price of meat I have no grounds for taking any action. I will be prepared to take action if it should be necessary. A Prices Advisory Committee concluded in 1965 that the retail prices charged for fresh meat were fair and reasonable.
I understand that there have been some increases in vegetable prices but vegetables are sold in such a wide variety and in so many different circumstances that I would not consider any action about prices unless it were apparent that, in general, excessive prices were being charged. A Prices Advisory Committee investigated potato prices, excluding prices paid to farmers, in 1965. They concluded that the prices charged to consumers for potatoes were fair and reasonable.
I think it must be accepted that there is no shortage of competition in the meat and vegetable business.