Meat processors claim price transparency plan could undermine beef returns

Hogan's proposals for unlocking food chain data a threat to export prices, claim meat processors

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned that putting sensitive market information in the public arena could undermine farmer prices
Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned that putting sensitive market information in the public arena could undermine farmer prices
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Beef processors have raised serious concerns regarding plans for greater transparency in the food supply chain.

Proposals for greater transparency in the food sector were announced recently by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

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The move has been widely welcomed by the farm organisations; however, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned that putting sensitive market information in the public arena could undermine farmer prices.

The Commission noted that while there is a large amount of information available on producer prices, volumes of production, stocks, etc, there is almost no market information at the food processing and retail levels.

"This asymmetry of information between farmers and the other actors in the food supply chain puts farmers at a significant disadvantage in the market and erodes trust in fair dealing," the Commission stated.

"This lack of information on market developments from processors and retailers has been called the 'black box' of the agri-food supply chain and today's proposal unlocks that box," it added.

Commissioner Hogan claimed that strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain was a priority for the Commission.

"Enhancing market transparency will allow equal access to and greater clarity about price information, making our food chain fairer and better balanced," Commissioner Hogan said.

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"These new rules will complement the recently adopted directive banning unfair trading practices and their introduction reflects the very significant public support that there is throughout the EU to strengthen the role of the farmer in the food supply chain," he maintained.

However, MII expressed serious reservations regarding the Commission's initiative.

"MII has already made clear its concerns that in the pursuit of further market transparency, the Commission proposals may well result in placing sensitive commercial pricing information in the hands of customers and international competitors and in doing so, actually undermine market returns," the processor body claimed. "This is a particular concern for companies where the vast amount of products are exported into markets that prioritise domestic product. The Commission needs to be careful to avoid unintended consequences and in doing so damage those that it intended to protect."

Each EU Member State will be responsible for the collection of price and market data.

Member States will communicate the data to the Commission, who will in turn make the monitoring available on its agri-food data portal and EU market observatories.

The proposals could be adopted by the EU later this year.

Both Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) and ICOS welcomed the Commission proposals.

"Greater market transparency can provide many benefits for all operators in the supply chain, ensuring greater bargaining power for producers and helping to combat market volatility," ICOS stated.

These views were echoed by DII, who claimed that the "European dairy supply chain is already very transparent".

Increased price transparency is the third EU move to help improve fairness in the food supply chain.

 

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