Thursday 29 September 2016

Concerns as ABP set to increase its share of beef kill

Published 09/12/2015 | 02:30

Henry Burns
Henry Burns
Larry Goodman

Concerns have been raised over a concentration of the beef kill after Larry Goodman's ABP Group has moved to take a 50pc stake in Slaney Foods.

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The new joint partnership would be a significant move in the meat business that would see ABP enter the sheepmeat market as Slaney Foods includes Irish Country Meats (ICM) in addition to the Slaney international beef business.

ABP Food Group, chief executive, Paul Finnerty said they would be joining Northern Ireland's Linden Foods in a partnership to run the Slaney Foods business in Ireland.

He said they intend to "grow and develop" in a very competitive market environment.

However, the IFA's national livestock chairman Henry Burns said competition in the beef and lamb trade is "always a contentious issue between farmers and factories".

"Farmers are rightly concerned with the over dominance of a number of major players at both processing and retail level," he said.

Competition

The investment will be subject to clearance by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. Mr Burns said the commission needs to carry out a full investigation and provide the necessary undertakings to farmers around competition and market concentration.

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan said the Competition Authority must assess what impact any such deal would have on Irish beef farmers. He said it would result in ABP having a "very dominant position" in the sheepmeat market.

"Farmers are utterly frustrated that the price of beef and trends in payment seems remarkably similar across all factories despite the diverse nature of their businesses and the wide array of customers which they supply," he said.

The move will see a restructuring of the Slaney Foods Business that is currently jointly owned by the Allen Family and Linden Foods in Northern Ireland.

The Allen family are to retire from the redmeat processing sector after more than 50 years and the shareholding will be purchased by Slaney Foods.

The ABP Group will then invest in Slaney Foods for an undisclosed sum to form a joint venture with Linden/Fane Valley.

They stated business will continue as usual on sites operated by Slaney that accounts for 6pc of the cattle kill, and ICM which delivers around 40pc of the sheep kill. Currently, ABP processes 22pc of the beef kill and, if approved, that will increase to 28pc.

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