Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has said he was “encouraged” by the presence of management from individual meat processors at a meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce yesterday (Thursday, June 3).

Processors were invited to send their representatives (as opposed to being represented by Meat Industry Ireland) by taskforce chairperson Michael Dowling, something that a number of farmer representatives had been calling for.

Beef prices; the current market situation; challenges and opportunities in the sector; and the implementation of the 2019 Beef Sector Agreement all came up for discussion.

“I am encouraged to see the direct engagement between the processors and the beef taskforce. As I have previously stated, strong constructive engagement across the supply chain is necessary.”

The minister noted that the finalised version of the third report by professional services firm Grant Thornton, which was commissioned by the taskforce, would be released in the coming days.

Grant Thornton was commissioned to conduct three reports by the taskforce. The first two – on competition law in the beef sector and market specifications and requirements – have already been released.

This third report is on the ‘price composition’ of beef along the supply chain.

“I am pleased to see that the three market transparency studies commissioned by the department are now completed.”

However, Minister McConalogue touched on concerns already expressed by farm organisations – as well as retailers Aldi and Lidl – that the third report is likely to hampered by a lack of availability of data.

Notwithstanding this though, the minister argued that the three reports will “act as an important starting point for further work on transparency”.

He added: “I hope that this work will be carried forward by the new office of the National Food Ombudsman or regulator, to be established by primary legislation.”

The minister also claimed that action set out in the Beef Sector Agreement “are now completed or are nearing completion”.