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Varadkar: “We have benefited from cheap food for a long time”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that Ireland has “benefitted from cheap food for a long time,” and said that he believes food prices will go up due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The remarks were made in the Dáil this week while speaking to Independent TD Michael McNamara, who said that food shortages in western Europe could lead to significant price increases in Ireland.

“Is there a plan for that?” asked McNamara.

“What I do not want, in 12 months time, is to see one section of the economy or society pitched against another, with people finding they are being priced out of basic food products and farmers saying they simply cannot produce the food for any less.”

Varadkar replied that while he agreed that food shortages would probably not be a problem in Ireland, food prices could very well increase significantly.

“If what is happening with energy prices continues and if what is happening in Russia and Ukraine unfolds, then there is a real probability that the price of food will go up here in Ireland and in western Europe,” he said.

“We have benefited from cheap food for a very long time. I think the price of food is going to go up, and the question is how we deal with that.

“That is going to be about helping farmers with costs, and we will do that, but it is also going to be about incomes policy. There has to be a recognition that if the price of things rises, if the cost of living rises, then incomes are going to have to rise as well.”

The revelation comes as Ireland faces a significant cost of living crisis, with voters ranking day to day costs as their number one concern even ahead of housing.

Social media users expressed concern at the news.

“A country with the ability to feed 65 million people is going to suffer price increases on food,” said one user.

“We have one of the biggest agri food sectors in the world its the one thing we produce really well. This should not be happening.”

“His solution by putting incomes up simply causes more cost push inflation,” said another.

“The intelligent approach would be to reduce taxes on products used in farming and manufacturing.”

Still more expressed frustration at the government’s recent decision to put up the price of alcohol using minimum alcohol pricing.

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