IFA and meat factories in conflict as farmers’ share of retail price is below production cost

Livestock farmers have staged a protest at the Aldi supermarket in Tullamore, Co Offaly, demanding a rise on the €3.75 they get from the €8.92/kg average Irish retail price for beef.

The IFA says Irish meat factories have cut prices to Irish farmers by 35c/kg since May 1, from €4.10 back to their current €3.75/kg.

The farmer group has accused retailers and processors of failing to honour responsibilities to farmers and consumers.

IFA president, Joe Healy, said: “Retailers are using farmer profiles to market our top quality beef to consumers, pretending they are returning a fair price. However, the reality is retailers are turning their backs on farmers by allowing processors to drive down prices to unsustainable loss-making levels.”

He says retailers and processors could pay producers a sustainable beef price of €4.00 to €4.50/kg, which Teagasc says is needed for cattle produced off grass and for winter finishers.

However, meat factories group Meat Industry Ireland (MII) argues that Irish finished cattle prices are 105% of the EU average the EU average, notably in the key markets of UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

The Irish factory price was even 110% of the EU average at one stage this year, MII adds.

MII’s Cormac Healy said: “IFA claims on cattle prices and competition for finished cattle in the market are at variance with the facts. The reality is that there is strong competition for cattle, even more so for in-spec cattle.

“IFA fails to acknowledge that Brexit is a significantly negative event over the medium term for Ireland and its immediate impact is already been experienced in exchange rate volatility and loss of competitiveness.”

IFA has also criticised the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for failing to act on competition issues raised by the independent report submitted by IFA to DG Competition in Brussels and the CCPC.

Joe Healy said: “The CCPC has washed its hands of their responsibility to probe the serious competition issues in the Irish beef sector highlighted in the report. For the CCPC to conclude the proposed Slaney/ABP deal does not ‘threaten competition in a market’ beggars belief.”


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