Concerns over the ABP/Slaney merger have been brought to the Competition Commission, by the ICSA.
ICSA is insisting that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC – formerly Competition Authority) delays issuing clearance to the reported merger between ABP and the Slaney Foods Group until a full examination of the following aspects of the merger is concluded and published.
ICSA also believes that all interested parties, including farmer representative associations, should be consulted at every stage of this process.
- To what extent competition for cattle will be hindered by the reduction in independent outlets competing for cattle with the big two of ABP and Dawn?
- To what extent does the acquisition reduce competition in the rendering trade, given that there will now effectively be only four category three outlets for handling fifth quarter products?
- To what extent will the acquisition undermine competition for niche Hereford and Angus beef given that Slaney was a main competitor to ABP for these important added value markets which are particularly important for key supermarket contracts?
- Is the CCPC concerned at the fact that a dominant player in the beef industry in Ireland and the UK is now in control of 40% of sheepmeat processing (via Irish Country Meats, part of the Slaney Foods Group) in Ireland as well?
- To what extent is competition for cattle impacted in Northern Ireland where the Linden Food Group (currently the owner of 50% of the Slaney Foods Group) was an important independent processor but which will now be under the influence of the ABP merger and will the CCPC examine what impact this will have on the cattle trade in the Republic?
ICSA President Patrick Kent said that there was huge alarm among cattle and sheep farmers that this deal will be disastrous for them.
“Farmers are very worried that this merger will be used to drive prices even lower. Many farmers believe that the cattle trade is operated almost like a cartel as there seems to be little difference in prices or in specifications.
“Most farmers associate the difficulties in getting better prices with the dominance of the ABP, Dawn and Kepak groups. This merger further consolidates the cattle trade in a small circle which leaves the farmer in an extremely vulnerable position,” he said.