Kepak site to close amidst ‘challenging market conditions’

Kepak has issued a statement outlining plans to “temporarily suspend” operations at its Co. Clare beef processing site.

The statement from the meat processor explained that against a backdrop of “challenging market conditions” for the beef industry in Europe, Kepak Clare has been “procuring cattle at a price premium associated with markets such as the US, China and the UK”.

However, given that Kepak Clare is not approved for export to such markets, the processors says “it consequently cannot achieve the associated price premium to remain competitive, leaving no alternative to temporary closure”.

The close of business for the site will be tomorrow, Friday, February 14.

Despite a comprehensive review and significant efforts to keep the Clare abattoir operational, management at Kepak has determined that the site “is no longer competitive”.

The statement outlined that the site was acquired in 2017 and employs 21 people.

Efforts are being made to facilitate interested staff at alternative Kepak sites, while all other staff will be temporarily laid off for the duration of the operational suspension.

Concluding, the statement outlined: “The future of the factory will remain under review during the temporary closure.”

Postponed investment

Earlier last year, Kepak Group confirmed that it had “indefinitely postponed” a planned €6.5 million investment at the Clare site in Drumquin as “a direct result” of the farmer blockades taking place at the time.

In a statement issued at the time of the protests, the meat processor said: “Kepak Clare has to date been the most severely affected of Kepak’s sites by illegal blockades, with all processing suspended there effectively since August 2, 2019.”

At the time of the announcement, Kepak had laid off 1,400 people including all staff at Kepak Clare.