I have acknowledged the importance of transparency in the market for primary producers and the Department is progressing several initiatives to increase transparency, in particular the establishment of a new Office, to be called the National Food Ombudsman or similar. The additional powers to be assigned to the new Office by primary legislation, going beyond those in the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) Directive, are currently the subject of a public consultation.
This new Office will have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland. As the Deputy will be aware, the Department and Bord Bia already publishes a wide range of price and comparative market data on a weekly basis.
As for legislation in relation to price determination, the price paid for goods is a matter between buyers and sellers and a function of supply and demand. In the context of food production, the costs of production differ substantially between individual producers. Similarly, the cost of processing, marketing and transport, the market price obtained for processed food, and the margin considered necessary to keep the business going, are all factors taken into account in the context of price determination. These are matters for commercial operators to determine.
It would, of course, be extraordinarily short sighted for processors not to take account of the viability of their suppliers in determining pricing policy, but price cannot be determined by the State.
It is, however, possible to strengthen the position of sellers in the market place by supporting collective action through producer organisations, by improving transparency and by prohibiting unfair trading practices and the Department is taking action in all of these areas.