Exceptional grain quality – a major boost for Irish poultry sector

The prospect of cheap cereal prices is not the ‘sure fire’ certainty that many commentators are currently making it out to be, according to Vincent Carton, Managing Director of the Carton Brothers’ poultry production and processing business.

“Grain is an internationally traded commodity and, yes, there has been a tremendous harvest in many countries around the world. But all it takes is one hiccup, preventing the export of grain from any of the world’s cereal growing regions, to put prices back on an upward spiral,” he said.

“And we are seeing this happening, up to a point, given the current unrest that is taking place in Ukraine. Certainly the price that we are paying for wheat at the present time is not that much lower than would have been the case earlier this year.”

And the same principle holds, he says, where protein is concerned. “Again there have been record soya harvests in many parts of the world but China and India are intervening heavily in that market at the present time, which is keeping prices high.

“The one tremendous positive emanating from this year’s harvest is the quality of the grain that is available coming from local tillage farmers. We purchase 90,000 tonnes of grain each year, two thirds of which is sourced from Irish growers. Without doubt, the feeding value of locally grown wheat and barley is the highest in living memory. And this really is a good news story for Irish pig and poultry farmers.”

Turning to the issue of meat labelling, Vincent said that guaranteeing provenance is a key driver for food retailers and added:

“The European Parliament has been to the fore in driving forward the issue of labelling and bringing total transparency to bear when it comes to consumers knowing the origin of the food they are purchasing,

“Within our own sector the real challenge is ensuring that all the chicken coming into this country, particularly the likes of fillets, is labelled. Hopefully, the changes that we have asked for will take effect at the beginning of April next year.”