‘Kick in the teeth’: IFA reacts to Polish beef order for UK shelves

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has described as “a kick in the teeth” reports that a beef processor has been stocking UK supermarket shelves with Polish beef.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said:

“At a time when Irish beef farmers are facing collapsing prices, it’s incredible that the ABP food group, an Irish-owned company, would bring in beef from Poland to stock supermarket shelves in the UK.

The European beef market is in turmoil. This has impacted more severely in Ireland as we are an export nation.

“We are being told by processors like ABP that the market for Irish beef has collapsed, yet we see the Irish-owned company filling orders with Polish beef. It is a ‘kick in the teeth’ for Irish beef farmers,” he said.

“The ABP Group should front up and give farmers a proper explanation as to why it chose to do this,” he said.

“The IFA has made a detailed submission this week to the Irish Government and the EU Commission looking for market stabilisation measures.

“We have had many meetings with our European counterparts in preparation for a key EU meeting on Monday,” he said.

We made it clear last week that the whole sector needs to pull together to put a case forward to the commission.

“I made the point that this crisis provided an opportunity for the processing sector to build trust by supporting farmers at this time. What has happened here will only serve to make matters worse,” he said.

ABP response

In response to the IFA’s comments, a spokesperson for ABP said: “At the end of March, many of our retail customers experienced panic buying, as people prepared to remain at home in response to Covid-19.

“This resulted in an unprecedented increase in demand over a very short period of time and processing capacity was not able to meet the surge in demand,” the representative added.

To ensure that consumers would continue to be served during this national emergency, ABP temporarily supplemented its existing supply chain with European beef, including Poland.

“This product is produced to the same exacting traceability and quality standards as all ABP products.

“This was a temporary measure related to one product which was clearly labelled and was aimed to meet the surge in demand at that time. Supply arrangements are now reverting to normal,” the ABP representative concluded.