Draft reports underway on beef sector competition and market requirements

Two draft reports that were commissioned by the Beef Market Taskforce are nearing their final stages, with drafts currently under development.

These two reports pertain to competition law as it relates to the beef sector, and market and customer requirements.

The reports are being developed by professional services firm Grant Thornton. A third report, into the price composition of animal carcasses, has not reached the draft stage yet, though there has been progress in this area, Grant Thornton has told the taskforce.

Grant Thornton outlined the progress on these three reports in a letter to beef taskforce chairperson Michael Dowling.

“The projects have progressed well; however, we have encountered some unanticipated challenges which will lead to delays in the delivery of the final reports,” Grant Thornton said.

“These challenges have been further compounded by the re-prioritisation of tasks by key stakeholders managing the outbreak of Covid-19 within their respective organisations,” the consultancy firm noted.

On the first report – titled ‘A summary of competition law as it relates to the beef sector’ – Grant Thornton highlighted that it is “a literature review of the relevant legislation”. The final draft should be issued shortly, the company confirmed.

The next steps on this report are to conduct final consultations with stakeholders, and to put the draft through a quality assurance process.

On the next report – ‘Independent review of market and customer requirements’ – Grant Thornton explained that its purpose is to “set out what the current in-spec bonus criteria are; examine what key customer and third country requirements are; and assess demand for particular cuts in key markets”.

“In addition to outlining the above, the report will set out the alignment between market/customer requirements and the current bonus criteria,” the firm added.

Again, travel restrictions and “shifting priorities” due to Covid-19 has delayed progress on this report.

The next steps for this report are consultations with “a broader range of stakeholders” and the finalisation of the draft.

Finally, for the third report – ‘Independent examination of the price composition of the total value of the animal along the supply chain’ – Grant Thornton is advancing on mapping out the supply chain, and has issued data requests to stakeholders.

The firm will now move towards analysing data and drawing conclusions.

“We are committed to working with all key stakeholders to ensure we can deliver comprehensive reports that address all the requirements… I would like to acknowledge and thank the stakeholders who have engaged in this process to date,” the letter said.

“Notwithstanding the challenges arising from Covid-19, I would like to ask for continued engagement from key stakeholders to ensure robust reports can be delivered on transparency in the beef sector,” it concluded.