The importation of 23t of sheep meat on Monday morning by Irish Country Meats (ICM), and subsequent dropping of lamb price won’t be tolerated, IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said.

Following a meeting with factory staff, the IFA said management assured the that the product will be re-exported, primarily to the EU market; is fully compliant with the regulatory labelling requirements; and does not carry the Bord Bia Quality Assured logo.

The IFA said it is up to the Department of Agriculture, the Food Safety Authority and Bord Bia to assure farmers this product is not misrepresented as Irish sheep meat.

Ensure integrity

The IFA is demanding the agencies audit all procedures around the importation, processing and labelling of the product to “ensure the integrity of Irish lamb is protected”.

“Structures must be put in place to supply our key markets throughout the year and remove the need to use imported product to fill orders,” Dennehy said.

“Factories have a key role to play in this and must support the production of early lamb on Irish farms for these markets with price commitments that reflect the costs and labour associated with early lamb production.”

Lamb prices

The IFA has said that lamb prices throughout the EU and the UK remain strong, driven by high volumes of supermarket sales, the reopening of the food service sector in the UK and the approaching end of Ramadan.

Dennehy continued: “Prices have started to strengthen with €7.50/kg offered for hoggets today and €8/kg for lamb with higher prices for larger lots and groups.

“Factory agents are more active in marts this week highlighting the demand for sheep meat that must be reflected in prices paid to farmers.”