IFA report raises further concerns about ABP/Slaney deal

Study by PMCA suggests Goodman deal will damage competition in beef sector

“This report is very clear on the competition concerns in the beef sector, the income pressures that exist for livestock producers and the impact that any weakening of competition would have on their livelihoods,” said IFA president Joe Healy. Photograph: Paul McErlane/Bloomberg

“This report is very clear on the competition concerns in the beef sector, the income pressures that exist for livestock producers and the impact that any weakening of competition would have on their livelihoods,” said IFA president Joe Healy. Photograph: Paul McErlane/Bloomberg

 

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has published a report raising further concerns about the part-takeover of Slaney Meats by Larry Goodman’s ABP Group.

The report suggests the deal would have an adverse impact on competition in the beef processing sector and would make “co-ordinated effects” on price more likely.

The IFA has already submitted the report, prepared by Pat McCloughan of PMCA Economic Consulting, to the competition authorities in Brussels, which have yet to rule on the deal.

“This report is very clear on the competition concerns in the beef sector, the income pressures that exist for livestock producers and the impact that any weakening of competition would have on their livelihoods,” IFA president Joe Healy said.

The Slaney deal is at the centre of an escalating row between the IFA and ABP.

Earlier this month, the Goodman firm halted the automatic collection of levies from farmers, which part-fund the IFA.

Retaliation

Presenting the findings of the report, Dr McCloughan pointed out that ABP and Slaney combined currently account for 25.8 per cent of all cattle slaughterings in the State.

However, when the market is narrowed down to premium cattle, the figure rises to 36.2 per cent, he said.

Dr McCloughan also outlined the growing gap in cattle prices between Ireland and Britain, the State’s largest export market, which has been a source of tension between farmers and processors.

In response to the report, an ABP spokesman said: “ABP food group is in a regulatory process with the EU Commission regarding the proposed 50/50 joint venture with Fane Valley co-op in relation to Slaney Foods.

“The company is aware of the IFA report and is confident that the transaction will be approved in the coming months. It is not appropriate to comment further while this process is ongoing,” he added.

Under the deal, ABP will buy the Allen family’s 50 per cent stake in Slaney, creating a new partnership with Linden Foods, which owns the remaining 50 per cent.

The deal will also see ABP move back into lamb processing – via Irish Country Meats – for the first time in decades.

Mr Healy called on Minster for Agriculture Michael Creed and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to address the issue.