One meat processor that was “observed importing a consignment of lamb” from Britain this morning (Monday, April 26) has been denounced by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

IFA National Sheep Committee chairman Sean Dennehy strongly criticised the import of lamb by Irish Country Meats (ICM), which he said is a “clear attempt to undermine prices for sheep farmers”.

According to the farming organisation, members of the IFA Sheep Committee observed the delivery of a consignment of 1,100 lamb carcasses, 23t of sheep meat, that left GB yesterday, to ICM in Camolin, Co. Wexford this morning.

Commenting on this, Dennehy said: “Farmers are outraged that factories, in the same week as they attempt to pull the price of lambs and hoggets, would use imported lamb to fill orders.”

IFA on importing

The IFA has raised the issue with ICM and has “sought an urgent meeting”, the chairman said, adding:

“There is enormous farmer anger at using imports to fill contracts, while cutting the prices they are offering farmers here.”

The chairman said market conditions are strong, and demand will increase further as we approach the end of Ramadan in mid-May.

Attempts by factories to undermine the positive trade for Irish sheepmeat by importing lamb will not be tolerated by farmers, he stressed.

He said prices in the UK and the EU had increased further.

The imported lamb prices in France’s Rungis market rose to €8.90/kg in the latest weekly report, clearly showing the strength of demand for lamb and the prices available in the market place.

Dennehy said there is no market justification for lower prices. “This blatant attempt by factories to weaken farmers negotiating power will not be tolerated,” he stressed.

Farmers should dig in, sell hard and demand the full market value of lambs and hoggets, the IFA sheep chairman concluded.

ICM response

In a response to the IFA’s comments, a representative for ICM said: “Irish Country Meats works closely with our direct farm suppliers and producer groups to market Irish lamb across the world.

“Irish Country Meats has built a strong export retail customer base servicing over 25 markets, that sits alongside our developed domestic market business.

“To support a consistent 52-week supply for our customers, the company’s lead boning hall in Camolin, Co Wexford, sources carcase lambs from other locations in ROI/NI and UK.

“The development of a complimentary European export retail business has helped to remove the historical exposure to a volatile export carcase trade and has demonstrated a sustained & improved return to Irish farmers,” the ICM spokesperson said.