Farmers and factories clash over fall in cattle prices

Meat industry says Irish farmers still getting higher prices than the rest of EU

Farmers and the meat factories are on a collision course over the collapse in cattle prices over the past five weeks.

The Irish Farmers' Association will meet Meat Industry Ireland, the representative body for meat processors, and some of its members, next Monday to highlight their grievances.

Farmers say factory prices have fallen by €130 to €150 per animal since mid-June and that the price reduction has not been reflected on supermarket shelves.

IFA's livestock chairman Henry Burns said farmers were used to fluctuating prices but now they were seeing 10 per cent of the price just wiped out. "A lot of fellows will be selling eight, nine or 10 cattle so at €150 per head lost, that's €1,500 gone," he said.


However, Meat Industry Ireland's director Cormac Healy said the Irish cattle price was almost 110 per cent of the EU average price. "Our beef is 30 to 35 cent per kilo more expensive than that in our key continental EU markets and this is having a serious impact on competitiveness and sales," he said.

“The reality is that for a major net exporter such as Ireland, it is not sustainable for our beef price to be so far ahead of the markets we are selling into. It presents a very difficult trading situation where you are exporting into markets where the domestic product is cheaper than yours.”

Mr Burns said Britain was one of the highest priced markets for mainstream beef in the world and Ireland supplied 70 per cent of their import requirements for beef. “The farmer price over there is still very near €5 per kilo and we are heading fast towards €4 per kilo.” However, Meat Industry Ireland said this high price was for British beef on sale in Britain and domestic product always received a premium in the market place.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times