The IFA has criticised the full takeover of Slaney and Irish Country Meats (ICM) by APB, saying that it further erodes competition.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must urgently review the situation and that it pulls into renewed focus the need to implement primary legislation to provide the office of the food regulator with powers to positively support the supply chain.

“The Consumer Protection and Competition Commission (CCPC) has continually failed farmers in this area," Cullinan said.

“The figures speak for themselves: breakeven prices for beef are €4.50/kg, but this is rarely achieved due to a combination of factors including lack of competition in the processing sector, high dependence on large supermarket chains and the powers they have been allowed establish and the importation to our key markets of sub-standard produce,” he said.

Cullinan further commented that their meetings with the Beef Market Taskforce had been very frustrating and said Grant Thornton had failed to identify margins along the food chain.

IFA report

He continued by referencing a report carried out by the IFA in 2016 which pointed to competition issues in the marketplace and said this takeover was likely to increase those issues.

“It was very clear on the competition concerns in the beef sector, the income pressures that exist for livestock producers and the impact that any weakening of competition would have on their livelihoods,” he said.

He pointed out that the sheep market in particular was likely to be affected, as Slaney/ICM is the largest processor of sheep and lamb in the state, with around 40% of the kill.