The European Commission needs to bring forward support for the livestock sector without delay as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) director Cormac Healy has said.

“Processors, particularly in beef and lamb, are under pressure to maintain throughput levels given the loss of the important food service market channel.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing serious devaluation of finished livestock prices as key market channels and certain EU markets are effectively closed and the mix of sales through retail outlets is skewed heavily towards lower-value cuts.

“MII has communicated these market issues to all the stakeholders and to the Government. While traditional market supports (intervention and aid to private storage) may not work in this case, other forms of support must be brought forward by the European Commission without delay,” he said.

Reduced levels

Despite the major market impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on meat markets across Europe, in particular the food service channel, meat processing is continuing at facilities across the country, albeit at reduced levels, MII has said.

“Significant protective measures and protocols are in place for all staff, farmers and service providers. Meat processing is essential to continuity of food supply in the domestic, European and international supply chains and to facilitate orderly movement of animals from farms,” it said.

Healy said that continued operations in meat processing is only possible due to the incredible commitment and efforts of staff at meat plants, of farmers and hauliers and all service providers to the industry.

He urged all involved to work with the new guidelines and protocols in operation at meat processing facilities and stressed the importance for companies to ensure that every possible measure is taken to protect all those working and engaged in the meat sector.

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