Kepak Clare plant to close temporarily due to ‘challenging market conditions’

Staff to be laid off or redeployed to other factories, company has said

The temporary closure of a Co Clare meat factory this Friday is " yet another blow to the farming community", farmers' organisation Beef Plan has said.

Kepak staff were told on Wednesday at 3pm that the plant will close on Friday for four to six weeks, due to "challenging market conditions". The company has confirmed it will temporarily suspend operations at its Clare site in Drumquin at close of business on Friday.

“Despite a comprehensive review and significant efforts to keep the Clare abattoir operational, management at Kepak has determined that the site is no longer competitive,” the company said in a statement issued to the Clare Champion.

“Against a backdrop of challenging market conditions for the beef industry in Europe, Kepak Clare has been procuring cattle at a price premium associated with markets such as the United States, China and the UK.


“However, given Kepak Clare is not approved for export to such markets, it consequently cannot achieve the associated price premium to remain competitive, leaving no alternative to a temporary closure,” the company said.

“ Efforts are being made to facilitate interested staff at alternative Kepak sites, while all other staff will be temporarily laid off for the duration of the operational suspension.

The future of the factory will remain under review during the temporary closure, it said.

Kepak Clare was acquired in 2016 and employs 21 people, which is almost half of the 47 workforce when Kepak took it over from John Kelly Meats in 2017.

Clare Beef Plan representative, Joe Woulfe has called on the company to arrange an urgent meeting with representatives of farming bodies to discuss the implications of this closure.

He said a number of issues need to be clarified including whether the Drumquin plant will still be used as a collection point to transport cattle for slaughter to other Kepak plants around the country.

“This is a blow to the farming community. When the plant closes, farmers will have to travel to Rathkeale, Ballinasloe and Charleville to get their cattle killed,” he said.

Independent Farmers of Ireland (IfoI) chairman, Seamus Shannon said the closure comes at a very challenging time for farmers who are finding it very difficult to get a price that even covers the cost of production for their beef produce.

He acknowledged that loyal supporters of the plant will be disappointed if this closure goes ahead as planned.

Recently, he recalled there was some uncertainty around the future of the plant but the indications at the time suggested it would be sold rather than closed.

Last September, Kepak announced in a statement that a “planned and publicly announced major € 6.5 million investment” was not going ahead in Drumquin as a “direct result of the ongoing illegal blockades”.