‘It will take months to work through backlog’ – Kepak

Kepak has claimed that it will “take months” to work through the backlog of cattle for slaughtering, due to the protests at various meat plants around the country.

In a statement, Kepak Group said it was “extremely concerned” over the backlog of both cattle and sheep, claiming that, by the end of this week, there will be 100,000-cattle backlog in the market, which, it says, is increasing by around 6,000 animals per day.

“It will take months to work through the backlog as the market preference will be for under 30-month cattle when processing recommences,” the statement said.

Over-age animals will put increased pressure on already depressed beef markets, an issue further exacerbated by the fact that certain European customers have already moved to alternative markets to source their supply.

“With regard to sheep, our loyal Kepak Athleague suppliers, who are innocent bystanders in these beef blockades, are expressing extreme frustration at being prevented from having their stock processed since August 30,” Kepak said.

Kepak also claimed that sheep farmers were having “intimidating behaviour directed at them” by the protesters.

“As lambs come to maturity quickly, those not slaughtered promptly when fit, fall outside fat and weight specifications and fail to secure the premium prices as a consequence,” the processor pointed out.

Our suppliers are suffering these very significant financial and farm management challenges while, like the beef situation, key customer accounts are being severely damaged. 

“Kepak wishes to reiterate its appreciation for the support of its loyal staff, customers and farmer suppliers during this extremely challenging time for the industry, and assure them that every effort is being made to get back to business as soon as possible,” the statement concluded.

Protest stood down

Yesterday, Wednesday, September 19, protesters at the Dawn Meats facility in Slane, Co. Meath, decided to stand down, saying that it was “in the best interests of the beef industry” to do so.

A statement from the protesters said: “While the agreement [agreed last weekend] did not provide all the answers required, it is the first step on a root and branch overhaul of the Irish beef industry.”