Cash-strapped consumers could be paying more for their chickens and fry-up ingredients this winter as droughts across the US and Russia impact on the cost of animal feed.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has warned that the cost of a chicken could rise by several euro, while sausages and rashers could rise by as much as 20% due to droughts that have hit crop production.
In short, bad weather in grain baskets like these leads to poor crop yields, which leads to a spike in animal feed pieces.
This can then have a knock-on effect on prices we pay for the products on our table.
IFA pigs chairman Tim Cullinan said the cost of feed for farmers has increased almost 80% in the past year. He urged the Government to regulate the sector so farmers get a greater share of the margin from retailers.
“Pig meat currently retails at about €7 over the counter and the farmer sees about €1.65 of that. There has been a 10% increase in cost but our inputs are up 80%. It’s unsustainable.”
Commenting on the IFA warning, agricultural economist Alan Matthews told RTÉ that price rises would not be as severe as those that occurred in 2008.
“The markets are very nervous at the moment. It’s been, over the past four to five years, a period of great volatility.
“We’ve seen prices go up, we’ve also seen prices fall quite dramatically.
“There are real factors like the drought in America and also bad harvests in Russia, but nonetheless the situation is not similar to what we observed in 2008 as yet.”
Mr Matthews cautioned against money-conscious consumers panicking about price increases.
“I think we need to keep it in perspective insofar as the change in the prices that farmers receive is only partially reflected in the changes in prices that we pay in the shops.
“The share that the farmer gets, in terms of the euro that we spend on food, is relatively small.
“Obviously, for chicken, which is not a processed product, we are going to see those effects more dramatically, but across the broad range of foods that people purchase, it will mean higher prices. But I don’t think as yet it’s a cause for panic.”
He also stressed that, even with the droughts across the US and Russia, which are the largest exporters of corn, forecasts for worldwide crop yields were for record harvests.
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