‘Proposed meat processor takeover is bad news for farmers’

The proposed takeover of Dunbia by Dawn Meats would be a major blow to competition within the beef sector, the ICSA’s Edmond Phelan said.

Beef farmers are already struggling to get a fair price for their produce without a further merger, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s Beef Chairman.

“Beef farmers struggle to get a fair price as it is and most farmers would associate the difficulties in getting better prices with the dominance of the ABP, Dawn and Kepak groups.

This takeover would further consolidate the cattle trade in a small circle, which leaves the farmer in an extremely vulnerable position.

Previously known as Dungannon Meats, the company was re-branded as Dunbia in 2006 and currently has processing plants in Slane, Co. Meath and Kilbegann, Co. Westmeath.

With origins in Moygashel, Co. Tyrone, the company also has extensive operations in Northern Ireland and right across the rest of the UK.

The ICSA believes that Dunbia presents farmers with an alternative option to the ‘big three’.

The news of this proposed takeover, although not entirely surprising, will certainly come as a deep disappointment to farmers, according to the ICSA.

ABP/Slaney Takeover deal

The European Commission’s competition authority cleared the proposed acquisition of joint control of Slaney Foods by meat processor ABP Group and farmer-owned agri-food company Fane Valley in October 2016.

The decision by the Commission to approve this takeover means that farmers have little faith in competition authorities to ensure fair play for farmers, Phelan said.

“It will be critical to see what comes of Commissioner Hogan’s focus on unfair trading practices.

The ICSA wants to see a regulator at EU level with the power to audit all aspects of the food chain, to determine where the profit is going because it certainly isn’t going to the farmer.

“We need to have much more transparency around the food chain at EU level,” he said.