The recent product pricing clash between Unilever and Tesco has drawn a sharp “just buy British” message from NFU Scotland president, Allan Bowie.
“While for most people this appears to be a negotiation between two massive, faceless, corporate giants, to farmers there is another dimension, namely the impact of supermarket food deflation,” he said in his latest union blog.
“Unilever appears to be taking the stance that in a volatile global market, compounded by the currency impact of Brexit, price cannot constantly go one way – down. The company, who produce many of their products in Europe, is possibly finding that it cannot continue to source raw materials in euros while being paid less because of the weakening pound.
“There is certainly an argument, therefore, that because of the Brexit vote (and the resulting currency effect), supermarkets should look to source more food from more of our own farmers, growers, crofters and food and drink manufacturers, where there is no exchange rate impact.”
Mr Bowie (pictured above) also took the opportunity to highlight the need for farmers to start being paid a “sustainable price” for their output, casting an envious eye at Unilever’s freedom to act from a greater position of strength than is true for some farm product suppliers.
“Unilever can use its corporate weight to refuse to sell at unsustainable prices,” he said. “However, for farmers, when the price we are being paid reaches unsustainable levels what we see is enterprising businesses, often family run, leaving our industry after generations of hard work, sweat and tears in many cases.
“The conclusion we take from this dispute must be that we need shoppers, processors and retailers to support our industry and ensure a sustainable income that allows our industry to grow and thrive. There also needs to be a greater understanding of the fact that price deflation impacts on farming.”