Supermarket warehouses new target of beef protests

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed

Margaret Donnelly and Ian Begley

The Beef Plan Movement has begun protesting outside distribution centres owned by supermarkets, despite distancing itself from ongoing demonstrations at meat factories.

The move comes as negotiations between the farming organisations and the factories are set to resume today, in the hope of ending the ongoing protests.

About a dozen protesters were seen outside the Aldi distribution centre in Naas, Co Kildare, yesterday ahead of today's talks.

The Beef Plan confirmed last night it would be attending this morning's negotiations in Backweston, Co Kildare, but it is understood Independent Farmers - the body representing the farmers still protesting at factories - will not be attending.

The Beef Plan's protests against supermarkets comes after the group was informed retailers would not be attending today's meetings.

In a statement to its members, it said: "We find it hard to understand this as Meat Industry Ireland lays the blame for four movements, 70 days and 30 months firmly at the door of the retailers."

Those rules relate to the transport and age of the cattle from which the meat is taken.

"Meat Industry Ireland also say that retailers take the largest share of the retail price of beef. Retailers have at no point in the last month made any public statement on this issue and therefore we can only assume that this is a calculated ploy on their behalf to maintain their profits."

The group said it had tried since January to engage with some of the major retailers in Ireland without any success.

It said it would be holding a number of peaceful protests at retail distribution centres over the coming days, but not those of Lidl because it permits beef from cattle up to 36 months.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has rebuffed the claims by Beef Plan in relation to the share of the retail price.

"Beef Plan suggested that MII has said that the retailer takes the largest share of the retail price for beef," it said in a statement. "This is inaccurate and misleading, both in content and attribution to MII. MII indicated in a statement on August 23 that the producer share of the retail beef price is closer to two-thirds.

"MII also indicated that Irish beef is sold across several market channels (retail, food service, wholesale and manufacturing) and 90pc of our overall sales are to export markets."

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed called on both sides to step back from court proceedings and blockades to allow space for meaningful talks.

MII said it had confirmed to the minister that processors had respected his wishes and, with immediate effect, deferred legal proceedings to enable meaningful talks.

Irish Independent