Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Talks fail to halt another 5c/kg price cut

IFA's Henry Burns: a hit-list has been drawn up for farmer protests on meat industry prices
IFA's Henry Burns: a hit-list has been drawn up for farmer protests on meat industry prices
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Supermarkets, fast-food outlets and meat factories are all on the hit-list for farmer protests following heated negotiations between factory bosses and IFA officials yesterday afternoon.

During a two hour long meeting with management from ABP, Kepak, Dawn and a number of the independent factories at Dublin Airport, IFA leadership attempted to extract a commitment from the meat industry that prices would not be pulled any further.

However, factory bosses pushed ahead with further cuts of 5c/kg this week, bringing quotes for both heifers and steers even closer to €4/kg after several months at €4.50/kg.

Five weeks of successive cuts has reduced quotes by up to 50c/kg, resulting in a €130 drop for steers, €150 cut for heifers and a €145 slide in cow returns.

IFA livestock chairman, Henry Burns had hoped to secure commitments from meat processors last Friday, but meetings were delayed until this week.

Having failed to extract any assurances from Monday's exchange, Mr Burns said the next step would be to target the main processors and their key customers.

While farm protests outside large supermarkets have become more common in recent years, the prospect of angry scenes at McDonald's and Burger King fast-food outlets will be a new development.

"Everybody's fair game at this stage. The first person you see when you walk into these places is the farmer in big posters.

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"That's great in one way but the farmer needs to be rewarded for meeting all the specs and quality assurances that go with meeting these customers' requirements," said Mr Burns.


Meat Industry Ireland's spokesman stressed again that Irish prices were still ahead of the European average where 50pc of Irish product is sold.

But Mr Burns expressed doubts over whether as much as 50pc of Irish beef was still being sold into European markets.

"You would have to question at the moment where the beef is actually going.

"There's such a demand in Britain with the lack of supply, I can't imagine that the opportunity is being completely ignored by our meat plants," he said.

IFA president John Bryan said that the price cuts had sapped the confidence of the entire sector, with mart prices back by more than €100/hd in many cases and risked an exodus of suckler cow farmers out of the sector.

The latest price cut coems against a backdrop of supplies remaining tight at the factories, at an estimated 27,000 head.

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