Meat sector consolidation raises all sorts of questions
Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30
Beef and sheep farmers are worried about the fall-out as the Allen family retire from redmeat processing with the Larry Goodman owned ABP taking a 50pc share in Slaney Foods.
If the deal goes ahead, it will leave Mr Goodman controlling 28pc of the national cattle kill, 40pc of the national sheep kill and 50pc of the country's rendering capacity.
This is about 450,000 head of Irish cattle, along with another one million sheep. That's on top of ABP's British plants that now slaughter an estimated 370,000 head, or close to 14pc of the British and Northern Irish cattle kill.
It means that one man controls about 250,000 tonnes of annual meat sales - equal to half the entire Irish output.
The Bunclody plant would be another valuable addition to the portfolio. It is the largest beef plant in Ireland, with one of the most modern boning halls in Europe, courtesy of investments of over €25m in recent years.
Slaney had championed the development of premiums for Hereford and Angus lines that they sold into growing contracts in Lidl Ireland and abroad.
ABP was the other main outlet for these Herefords, providing some healthy competition. This is one issue, but farmers are also wondering if the other major shareholder in Slaney - Fane Valley Co-op - will be involved in the plant for much longer.
The northern co-op has already formed a merger with Cavan-based Lakeland Dairies to help it through the current dairy crisis.