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Tomato Prices

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

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55.

asked the Minister of Food why he authorised an increase of over 60 per cent. in the mid-June retail selling prices of home-grown and Dutch tomatoes as compared with a similar period in 1946; whether he is aware that substantial margins of profit were afforded to all sections of the trade which handled tomatoes on the control price list of 1946 and that these 1947 prices are comparable to an advance of 110 per cent. on the mid-June prices of 1938–39; and, in view of the importance of tomatoes to the dietary of the average consumer and his purchasing power, whether he will again review the net effect of this new control price.

The increase in the mid-June price amounts to 11s. per 12 lb. chip of which 8s. 9d. is payable to the grower and the balance to the distributive trades. The increase to the grower was made because of increases in wages and other costs of production. Owing to the lateness of the season, the proportion of the crop marketed at these early high prices will be smaller than usual. As regards the distributive trades, the increases are due to increased costs including the higher costs of wastage.

Does not the Minister realise that, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, tea, or supper, tomatoes play a more important part in the dietary of the average citizen than any other commodity; is she not aware that the action of the Minister means a big step up in the cost of living of such people; and what action does she propose to take to deal with those who, by their representations, have brought about this fanciful and fantastic increase?

I recognise the consumer need, although I would not necessarily accept my hon. Friend's dietetic dictum. He must remember, however, that we have also to consider the producer and to see that he is properly remunerated.