The UFU has reacted to the news that ABP has reached an agreement in principle with Fane Valley Co-op to acquire the remaining 50% holding in its red meat business, subject to approval by the relevant regulatory and competition authorities.
The business deal includes Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats businesses in the Republic of Ireland and Linden Foods in Northern Ireland.
The businesses operated as an ABP/Fane Valley joint venture for the last five years.
Essential competition is not hindered
Ulster Farmers’ Union, deputy president William Irvine, described the announcement as “an interesting development”.
“The news that ABP has reached an agreement in principle with Fane Valley Co-op to acquire the remaining 50% of Linden Foods, could benefit the NI livestock sector.”
“The transaction has the potential to create closer links and strengthen the export relationship NI has with other countries as it would group the processing factories together.”
However, he said it is essential that competition between the processors is not hindered in any way going forward.
“Prices have been relatively strong over the past number of months and we hope our farmers continue to receive fair prices for their high-quality cattle from processers.”
“Especially when beef producers have been impacted with higher production costs in the past year, meaning the farmgate prices they gained took an immediate cut to compensate for the extra expenses incurred,” he concluded.
It has been confirmed that the businesses will continue to operate under their respective trading names for the foreseeable future, and the sites will continue to operate as normal. The amount of the transaction is not disclosed.
Frank Stephenson, Chief Executive of ABP, said: “This development is the direct result of our successful joint venture arrangement, which has enabled all parties to improve their offerings to customers and to compete more effectively nationally and internationally.”
“The time is now right to build on this success ensuring that we continue to be a dynamic and innovative organisation as we face into the challenges of operating in a very competitive global marketplace; whilst also addressing the ongoing challenges of changing agricultural policies, Brexit and Covid-19.”