‘Let them eat cake’ grocery price hikes unacceptable

26 April 2023
  1. CSO data shows profit-margins rising in middle of cost of living crisis
  2. Proper scrutiny of groceries market needed

In Leaders’ Questions today, 26th April, Labour finance and enterprise spokesperson Ged Nash TD reiterated his call on the Taoiseach to request of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) a review of grocery price hikes and to examine the feasibility of price controls for basic goods.

Deputy Nash said:

“The CSO Consumer Price index for March, published just under two weeks ago, confirmed that prices grew by 7.7% in that month. We have passed another depressing milestone as last month marked the 18th consecutive month to see an increase of 5% or more.

“We keep hearing that inflation should now start to moderate as rampant energy prices subside, but what is really hitting people where it hurts is soaring prices for basic essentials.

“In the past year, food prices have sky-rocketed by more than 13%. For the first time since 2013, living standards in Ireland are falling, rather than rising. Family incomes simply can’t keep pace with spiralling everyday costs.

“Lower and modest income households are at the sharpest end of the price gouging that is now taking place.

“The European Central Bank has finally admitted what we have all known for some time: rising profits by big businesses – who keep prices high and wages low – account for half of all inflation pressures.

“Households are struggling to cover the costs of basic cupboard staples. Meanwhile, corporations, like supermarkets, are reaping hyper-normal profits.

“Some relief comes in the form of loyalty rewards, but only to certain customers and for certain products. This ‘let them eat cake’ attitude from Big Business is immoral, and has been accompanied by a cavalier silence from our Government.

“We need to see transparency in pricing and an acknowledgement from the Government had something has to give. Exceptional times demand exceptional measures to protect the living standards of working people.

“Today, during Leaders’ Questions, I reiterated my call on the Taoiseach to commission an investigation by the CCPC into potential price gouging in the food market, and to examine the potential need for price controls on basic goods.

“I was disappointed at his flat refusal to examine the feasibility of maximum price orders for basic goods, in particular. Families across Ireland are in crisis. Now is not the time for closed minds and inertia.

“I urge the Taoiseach to approach the matter with a more proactive attitude, and a willingness to engage with constructive proposals from Opposition Parties, like the one I put forward today.”

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