Call for burger bosses to attend beef talks

Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

With beef talks scheduled to resume today, Wicklow livestock farmer and IFA’s National Livestock Committee Chairman, Angus Woods, has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to invite Supermac’s boss, Pat McDonagh, and the leadership of McDonalds and Burger King into the talks to set out what they are paying for prime, fresh, high quality Irish beef used as the key ingredient in their burgers.

He said Pat McDonagh’s words of support for livestock farmers are very welcome.

"He is undoubtedly in a position of great influence in the trade. However, I understand that Supermac’s are paying between €3.00 and €3.50 per kg for prepared and boxed prime, fresh Irish beef – the key ingredient in the famous Supermac’s burgers.

"This is less than farmers are paid for their cattle. How can this be the case?

“At this cost level, the raw meat content of a Supermac’s burger is costing Pat just 15c to 17c. These burgers are sold by Supermac’s at between €2.20 and €7.60 each.”

“Hostile buying practices by the food services sector plays a role in undermining the price that farmers get. It is disappointing that leading Irish companies engage in these practices.

“Irish buyers of Irish beef could pay more and still retain very high levels of profitability in their own businesses,” he said.

Ahead of the talks, Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said now is the time for people to take a step back from entrenched positions and to take a positive approach towards resolving their differences.

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"I have engaged intensively with all sides and have a deep understanding of the outstanding issues, and the emotion, involved. I expect all sides to recognise the urgency of the current situation, and to enter talks in good faith and with a firm intention to reach agreement tomorrow."

Meat Industry Ireland said it is committed to working constructively to resolve the situation, and have always been ready to participate in talks, but only when negotiations could take place in good faith.

It said as requested by the Minister, beef slaughtering operations will remain suspended in blockaded plants during the talks.

However, MII said existing limited stocks of beef must be allowed have free movement in/out of meat plants.

"This is critical to avoiding further loss of domestic and export customers for Irish beef which would be to the long-term detriment of the sector," it said.

IFA President Joe Healy welcomed the recommencement of beef talks tomorrow morning.

He said it was time to stop the grandstanding and the posturing, and to get down to real talks.

“Meat Industry Ireland and the Minister must come forward with concrete and substantive proposals to resolve the issues and improve the position of farmers,” he said.

“We can’t afford to spend any time on posturing and game playing. We need to get this solved this weekend,” he said.

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