Thursday, 18 February 2021

Questions (6)

John McGuinness

Question:

6. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has carried out studies and analysis of the effects of the removal of the groceries order in 2006; if consideration has been given to reinstating the order or a version of same; his views on whether such an order would be helpful in protecting the primary producers of vegetables and meat at farm level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9229/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

The term “Groceries Order” refers to the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order 1987 (S.I. No.142 of 1987). This Order prohibited below invoice price selling rather than banning below cost selling. However, in effect, the Order had allowed wholesalers and suppliers to determine minimum retail prices being charged to consumers, thereby seriously constraining competition in the grocery trade. This Order did not cover fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh and frozen meat, and fish.

The single most important reason for revoking the Order was that it had kept prices of groceries in Ireland at an artificially high level by allowing suppliers to specify minimum prices below which products could not be sold.

The Competition (Amendment) Act 2006 repealed the Restrictive Practices Act 1972 as well as revoking the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order 1987 (S.I. No.142 of 1987). Since the revocation of the Groceries Order in March 2006, no statutory basis exists for me, as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to make a minimum pricing order in any sector. Consequently, I will not be making any such order.

I understand that the matter of supporting the primary producers of vegetables and meat at farm level will be dealt with by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in forthcoming legislation which will transpose into domestic law the Directive (EU) on unfair trading practices which has the objective of banning unfair trading practices (UTPs) in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain.