Lib Dem MP points out supermarket profits have quadrupled since 1998, but farm incomes have dropped by 22%

Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George has said the Competition Commission cannot ignore the fact that supermarkets have prospered while the farming industry has struggled.

Mr George has published figures, obtained from DEFRA and the House of Commons library, which show the power of the major retailers and the impact this has had on the farming community.

The figures include:
• Supermarket profits have more than quadrupled since 1988
• Farmers share in a basket of food has declined from 47% to just 36%
• Total income from farming has declined by 22% since 1988
• The average profit for a farmer was just £7544 in 2004/5

The statistics were released on Wednesday (7 June) which is the Competition Commission’s deadline for submissions ahead of its market investigation of grocery retailers.

Mr George, who has taken a leading role in the Parliamentary campaign to address supermarket power, said: “The Competition Commission cannot turn a blind eye to this.

“The good fortunes of the biggest supermarkets and the continuing slide of British farming is not unrelated. Supermarkets gain much of their strength at the expense of a weaker farming sector.”

Mr George said supermarkets’ treatment of food suppliers was perfectly rational, as they would lose market share unless they took advantage of their market muscle.

But he added: “The Competition Commission should ask whether supermarkets have passed through the Rubicon; from effective to unacceptable abuse of their overwhelming market power.”

* Want to put pressure on supermarkets to do more to support local producers? Join Farmers Weekly’s Food Miles campaign and sign the petition.