14 MARCH 2017
ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has said the proposed takeover of Dunbia by Dawn Meats would be a major blow to competition within the sector. “Beef farmers struggle to get a fair price as it is and most farmers would associate the difficulties in getting better prices with the dominance of the ABP, Dawn and Kepak groups. This takeover would further consolidate the cattle trade in a small circle which leaves the farmer in an extremely vulnerable position.”
Dunbia, with meat processing plants in Slane and Kilbeggan as well as significant operations in Northern Ireland and Britain, is an important alternative to the big three. This news, although not entirely surprising, will certainly come as a deep disappointment to farmers who feel the cattle trade is operated almost like a cartel.
Mr Phelan said that the recent decision of the EU Commission to approve the ABP takeover of Slaney meats means that farmers have little faith in competition authorities to ensure fair play for farmers. “It will be critical to see what comes of Commissioner Hogan’s focus on unfair trading practices. ICSA wants to see a regulator at EU level with the power to audit all aspects of the food chain to determine where the profit is going because it certainly isn’t going to the farmer. We need to have much more transparency around the food chain at EU level,” concluded Mr Phelan.