Jari Leppä (Centre), the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, has voiced his concern about the dominant position of retailers in the food system of Finland. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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JARI LEPPÄ (Centre), the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, has addressed concerns voiced by consumers and retailers about the government’s approach to private-label brands such as Kesko’s Pirkka and S Group’s Rainbow.

Leppä told Uusi Suomi on Thursday that the current approach to private-label brands promotes equality in the food system by preventing retailers from creating a dominant bargaining position.

“The inequalities in our food system have grown year after year,” he said. “Farmers and food producers are increasingly between a rock and a hard place. This is a situation that we absolutely must change. We know the consumer prices and we know the producer prices, but we don’t know what happens in between.”

He underlined that more information on the price formation process – as long as it does not include trade secrets or personal information – is needed to verify how food prices are formed in Finland.

“Private label is one tool that has allowed retailers to get an even firmer upper hand over farmers and, especially, food producers. It’s necessary to evaluate whether the current way of working is right and whether it promotes equality or not. My personal opinion is that it doesn’t – it creates inequalities,” said Leppä.

“You don’t have to be worried that there won’t be any private-label products in the future, but this is a question of how the profits are distributed between different operators in our food system,” he assured.

Leppä also reminded that the cost of cheap food is always shouldered by someone – be it the farmers, food producer, livestock and poultry or the environment.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi