The ongoing beef protests across Ireland have brought “a number of questions for beef processors, corporate food retailers and corporate food wholesalers forward to be answered”, according to the Northern Ireland lobby group Farmers For Action (FFA).

Sean McAuley, an FFA steering committee member, claimed “corporate abattoirs in Ireland and in the UK seem to set up their own rules and pricing and give or take a few pence to retain the fog on anti-competitive practices”.

As a result, FFA has requested a meeting with the UK Competition and Market Authority.

McAuley continued: “This will be an interesting meeting, in that FFA have met the Competition Authorities in Brussels some years back.”

The FFA has said “there can be no denying the following are anti-competitive practices”:
  • “In Southern Ireland, Lidl and SuperMacs have stated they do not have a 30-month age limit on beef, yet beef farmers are penalised north and south after crossing this threshold and other age limits set by processors;
  • “Four movement limitations in Northern Ireland have never been verified as a requirement by large supermarkets or other UK markets, nor is there any evidence of this in their shopping aisles or wholesale outlets;
  • “Red Tractor bonuses on beef have now disappeared; there are only penalties for not participating – yet many UK markets do not require this.”

Concluding, McAuley said: “This is laughable if it wasn’t so serious with many farmers at their wits end financially.”