Poultry growers have begun to protest at Lidl stores in Cavan and Monaghan towns on Tuesday morning in a bid to secure an increase in wholesale retail price.
The protest is being led by Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) poultry chair Andrew Boylan, who said that the "unilateral action" by Lidl to sell large chickens in a "cut-price promotion" is the kind of kamikaze behaviour by retailers that has to be outlawed.
“Selling a 1.9kg chicken for €3.49 is grossly irresponsible and has the potential to lead to a price war that producers will ultimately pay for,” he said.
Boylan said that Lidl is the only retailer not to increase its prices.
"Some retailers have recognised the very severe income difficulties at the moment and they have increased the price of chicken on the shelf. "Yet Lidl has pulled the price, which shows the complete disregard they have for producers,” he said.
Boylan said the Government’s inaction on retail legislation has created this situation.
This race to the bottom will have significant consequences for producers
“This race to the bottom will have significant consequences for producers. Unless we have robust regulation of retailers, we will see more and more farmers going to the wall.”
Boylan added that the cost of gas, energy, labour and animal feed have all seen inflation not witnessed by the sector in half a generation.
Irish inflation shot to a 14-year high in October, which has had a damaging effect on the sector.
Concerned about their future
Vice-chair of the poultry committee Brendan Soden said farmers are very concerned about their future.
"The EU average price for eggs has increased by 13.2% in the past year. However, Ireland is one of only two member states where the price has actually decreased in the past 12 months, with a drop of 8.4% in Irish egg prices.
"On the input side, feed costs have increased by 36% on last year, which is completely unsustainable," Soden said.
Boylan emphasised how growers are suffering and losing money.
“Without an immediate increase in the wholesale retail price, to be passed back to egg and chicken producers, the entire sector is in jeopardy. "We produce top-quality, Bord Bia quality approved produce, at prices which are not sustainable.
"We intend to highlight the absolute necessity for our costs to be recovered from the food chain immediately," he concluded.