Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Reduction of Carbon Emissions of 51% by 2030: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Con Traas:

Rather than go over the same ground, I will speak to the issue of the power of consumer sentiment from the perspective of apple growers. Anything that Government can do to change consumer sentiment is very helpful. Up to five years ago, it appeared there would be no end to the price pressure and continuous squeeze that was on growers. That has changed in the past couple of years because demand has greatly increased. Every supermarket chain in the country, including Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, SuperValu and Dunnes Stores, is crying out for Irish apples. That has led, indirectly, to a significant price increase over the past two seasons, with price being up approximately 50%. That is unheard of. The supermarkets do not like giving growers an increase of more than a couple of per cent per year. That came about because of demand and because the supermarkets can see that people are paying for it. People are prepared to pay mid-range to premium prices for the apples that we are growing in Ireland.

I do not know if anybody here watched "Ear to the Ground" in the past few days, on which there was an interview with an apple grower in Milltown who has been growing apples for, more or less, as long as I have. He said that it this the first time in the past couple of decades that he has hope. I also have hope. There is a tailwind coming in terms of people's concept of localisation and better understanding of food production and the cost of cheap food. There are costs to cheap food other than just the cost paid by the consumer on the day. The more information consumers have, the better.