The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has taken its concerns over the Dawn Meats takeover of Kildare Chilling to Europe.

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher says he has written to the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager calling for an examination of the deal’s potential impact on competition in the beef and sheep processing sector.

“There is precious little competition in the meat processing sector here and the loss of independence of this important outlet for cattle and sheep farmers will have a big impact,” he said.

‘Serious misgivings’

Kelleher has asked Commissioner Vestager to investigate if the Dawn Meats-Kildare Chilling deal is compatible with ensuring sufficient competition in the primary procurement markets for supplies of cattle and sheep.

“[The] ICSA has serious misgivings about any further weakening of competition in the beef and sheep processing sectors.

“The removal of Kildare Chilling will serve only to consolidate the position and power of the big three, namely ABP, Kepak and Dawn Meats,” he said.

The ICSA says it has "serious misgivings" about Dawn Meats' takeover of Kildare Chilling. \ Philip Doyle

The Cork farmer warned that maintaining competition is key to the survival of primary beef and sheep producers up and down the country.

“Kildare Chilling is regularly a leader when it comes to lamb prices and plays a critical role in keeping significant volumes of lamb out of the control of big processors.

“For the sake of protecting any sort of genuine competition, we cannot afford to lose important outlets like Kildare Chilling,” he said.


The Dawn Meats takeover, first revealed by the Irish Farmers Journal, has already led to calls from other farm organisations and Sinn Féin seeking thorough investigation by the Consumer and Competition Protection Commission (CCPC).

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that last year Kildare Chilling killed in the region of 550,000 sheep or around 20% of the national kill.

Through the acquisition of such a major player in the sheep processing sector, Dawn Meats is set to process over 3m sheep annually across Europe.

In 2021, Kildare Chilling also slaughtered in the region of 65,000 to 70,000 head of cattle, or 4% of the national kill, but has the capacity to slaughter 120,000 cattle annually.

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