Retailers must pay poultry producers by weight – IFA

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called on retailers to pay poultry producers by the weight of the produce, rather than by classification.

The association claims that the current system, whereby producers are paid a set rate depending on the size classification of the chicken – small, medium or large –  works to the advantage of retailers, and means that the producer loses out.

“The current system essentially results in retailers getting up to 200g for free on certain birds,” according to Andy Boylan, the IFA’s poultry chairman.

This is completely unacceptable at a time when poultry producers are struggling with increased production costs.

Boylan argued that this practice is unfair when compared to the system of payment used in the production of other meats, which is based on the weight of the produce.

“If we look at other meats, such as beef, retailers charge customers by weight for the product. It’s transparent, in that if you ask for 800g of mince, the butcher weighs it and you pay for 800g. This does not happen in poultry,” said Boylan.

Boylan also said, speaking from what he claimed was personal experience, that it was “impossible” to keep a chicken consistently within a certain weight classification, which cuts the price the producer might receive.

A small chicken is classified as weighing between 1,100g and 1,300g. Retailers pay poultry producers a flat price, regardless of the weight of the bird. I know from my own facility that it’s impossible to keep a bird at an exact weight of 1,100g, which means retailers often end up getting product for free.

He went on to argue that: “Chicken feed costs increased dramatically in 2018, as did energy costs, labour costs and the general cost of doing business. The retailers that ultimately sell chicken to the consumer need to recognise the true costs of sustainable production.”

Boylan concluded by calling the current state of affairs an “unfair trading practice”, and saying it “has to end”.