Carton Brothers’ managing director Vincent Carton has told AgriLand that the Irish poultry sector continues to grow. But it’s far from plain sailing for an industry that continues to compete head on with imported product.

Carton explained: “We need Brussels to finalise the new labelling regulations which will help local consumers to quickly and categorically identify Irish chicken in the shops. But this is a process that has been beset with delays.

“It was initially anticipated that the new regulations would come into force at the end of this year. However, this has now been pushed back to April 2015. At the heart of the issue is the debate now taking place between the European Parliament and the EU Commission.

“The Parliament has made it quite clear that it wants labelling regulations introduced for chicken that mirror those already in place for other meats.

“The response to this request from the Commission has been pretty lukewarm to date. My deep concern is that the delays in getting the new regulations past the post in Brussels will allow lobby groups with a vested interest in poultry meat exports to secure a watering down of the current proposals.”

Under the regulations now envisaged poultrymeat labels will give clear prominence to a specific product’s country of origin.

Carton again: “The new regulations should also ensure that the term ‘Irish chicken’ will refer explicitly to product that has been farmed and processed in Ireland. Under the proposed measures, there will also be a requirement for all retail outlets to label accurately the origin of the poultry meat products they are selling.

“All of this is good news. And Agriculture Minister Coveney totally supports the labelling proposals, in their current form. But nothing can be done at national level until the European authorities enact the required legislation.”

Carton went on to confirm that white meat consumption continues to grow in Ireland.

“But competition with other meats is still a key factor in the marketplace. For example, Europe is oversupplied with pig at the present time. And the inevitable consequence of this unfolding scenario is that pork prices will fall. It’s all about supply and demand.”