FOOD cost inflation of around 13% needs to be tackled head on by the Government with all the powers at its disposal, according to an Independent Cork city councillor.
Former Lord Mayor of Cork city, Ken O’Flynn, has criticised the Government’s decision not to intervene legislatively in reducing the cost of groceries.
Speaking recently, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said: “There are no legislative plans that Government have in terms of a legislative intervention at this stage in respect of pricing.
“The overall situation and more generally is getting better in terms of the rate of inflation reducing, and that should feed into grocery and food prices eventually.”
The Government met with retail industry bosses on Wednesday in a retail forum to examine how prices on the shelves can be brought down.
Chairperson of the meeting, Minister of State Neale Richmond, said: “It is quite clear that many families and workers are struggling with increased costs at the supermarket checkout. We have seen cuts to the price of butter, milk and bread prices in recent days. These are to be welcomed.”
General inflation is running at 6% but food inflation is more than double that, at 13%, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Speaking to The Echo, Cllr O’Flynn said: “While the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CPCC) has advised against price controls, this does not mean that the Government is entirely powerless to help consumers deal with rising food prices.
“The CPCC acknowledged the impact that the recent price increases have had on consumers, but stated that it has not seen enough evidence to justify regulatory intervention.
“However, I believe that the Government could still take several steps to ease the impact on consumers,” he added.
“For example, it could introduce measures such as subsidies or targeted supports for those who are struggling to afford basic groceries.
"The Government could also work with retailers to promote more affordable items and implement measures that could boost competition and market transparency.
“Ultimately, the Government must be proactive in finding ways to support consumers facing the burden of rising food costs.
"We need to strike a balance between protecting consumers’ interests and ensuring smaller retailers are not negatively impacted by any regulatory measures,” concluded Cllr O’Flynn.