Farmers’ fury as ABP beefs up with a full takeover of Fane Valley’s red meat businesses
Agri-food giant ABP has cemented its position as Ireland’s leading meat processor with a full takeover of Fane Valley’s red meat businesses. Farmers say the move erodes competition in an already concentrated market, and have asked the government to block it. ABP, owned by businessman Larry Goodman, said on Thursday it was to acquire the remaining 50pc stake in Fane Valley Co-op’s red meat holdings, including Northern Ireland’s Linden Foods and Irish-based Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats (ICM). The amount has not been disclosed, and the move has to be cleared by the Irish and EU competition authorities. Irish Farmers’ Association president Tim Cullinan said the “consolidation of the buying power for livestock in the hands of a few has to be addressed” by the authorities. The European Commission cleared ABP’s initial takeover bid in 2017, when the firm bought a 50pc stake in Fane Valley’s red meat division. ABP chief executive Frank Stephenson said that joint venture “has enabled all parties to improve their offerings to customers and to compete more effectively”. “The time is now right to build on this success, ensuring that we continue to be a dynamic and innovative organisation as we face into the challenges of operating in a very competitive global marketplace; whilst also addressing the ongoing challenges of changing agricultural policies, Brexit and Covid-19.” The firms will continue to operate under their respective trading names. Fane Valley chief executive Trevor Lockhart said the “future objectives for Linden, Slaney and ICM can be best achieved under a new business structure”.