ICSA beef chair, Edmund Graham, slatted beef processors for “unjustified, uniform” beef price cuts at today’s (Tuesday, March 8th) Beef Taskforce meeting.
Graham is demanding answers about why the price was cut and who made the decision.
“It is incredible that all meat processors implemented a uniform price cut at the same time even though markets are going upwards.”
Unjustified beef price cuts
Graham was outspoken in insisting that the Taskforce must get to the bottom of price cuts.
“The agreement in September 2019 provided that these grievances should be brought in the first instance to the Taskforce. I did everything in my power to insist that they should be aired at the Taskforce today.”
“As a result of sustained pressure from ICSA, the agenda of today’s meeting was changed. I am still not happy with the response from Meat Industry Ireland (MII).”
ICSA insisted that the management of the main beef processors should be asked to attend the next meeting of the Taskforce to explain the price cut in February and this was agreed.
The ICSA official also demanded to know how much beef has been imported to Ireland since the beginning of 2021.
“I believe that imports of beef have aided and abetted the factories in cutting price and I want full information about just exactly what is going on. The Department said that information should be available in the coming weeks.”
Beef prices overseas
Today’s Taskforce meeting saw a presentation from Bord Bia, “which confirmed the arguments put forward by ICSA” in recent weeks that the Irish price is falling far behind the equivalent prices in the UK and continental Europe.
The gap between the Irish composite price and the EU composite price has now worsened by 14c/kg.
The farm group also pointed out that Irish beef price should have improved to reflect the increased value of sterling relative to the euro since Christmas.
Sterling, he added, is 6% stronger since Christmas but there is no sign of this in the beef price here.
It was also notable that the price fell even though beef supplies are running 10% behind last year’s prices in Ireland.
“In 2020, imports of beef into the EU from international suppliers fell by 10% and that drop is continuing in 2021.”
On price, ICSA argued that if the foodservice sector starts to open up, particularly in the UK where vaccine roll-out is going very well, then there will be “no excuses for price not to increase significantly above €4/kg”.
“Irish beef price is now totally out of line with prices in our main markets at a time when imports into the EU are falling. This cannot go on and farmers need to think very carefully before selling cattle at current prices.” he concluded.