‘Secret margins’: TD calls for price transparency from meat industry
Meat processors have been called on to provide transparency on prices for beef by independent TD Denis Naughten.
Speaking at the Castlerea Agricultural Show over the weekend, deputy Naughten said: “The huge frustration being expressed by beef farmers right across the country is a direct result of the failure of the meat industry to provide any transparency on their margin or the price they can secure for beef on the export market.
“Not only are Irish beef farmers being fleeced but Irish shoppers are also funding these ‘secret margins’ which are pushing the cost of beef out of the reach of many more families,” the Roscommon-Galway TD claimed.
The fact is the further the animal goes from the farm gate, the less information is made available on price.
“That is why beef price transparency right across the supply chain must be the very first issue on the agenda of the emergency beef summit.
“While there is a large volume of information available on what the beef farmer sells his cattle for at either the mart or meat plant, there is a distinct lack of information on margins in the processing sector or the farmers’ share of the carcass price received on EU markets by processors, including the volumes and value of specific cuts.”
The TD also highlighted the price obtained by processors for the “fifth quarter”, “for which the farmer does not receive a cent”.
Unless farmers know what the beef carcass is selling for, including its specific cuts, then how can they determine if they are getting a fair price?
“This lack of basic information undermines any credibility the industry might have in explaining market trends.
“Furthermore, the industry claims that this is confidential information which could undermine its competitiveness does not hold up.”
This, deputy Naughten said, can be addressed by anonymisation of pricing, which is a tool in use in other competitive industries in Ireland.
“To get movement on price transparency and many other aspects of the beef sector in Ireland, I’m calling on Minister Michael Creed to convene an emergency summit of all the key players in the beef sector, from farmers right through to the end user – Irish shoppers.
This must be an inclusive summit of all aspects of the beef sector, which must be independently chaired.
“At that summit, Minister Creed must commit on behalf of Government to fast-tracking through the Dáil next month the new EU law which will ban 16 unfair trading practices covering agricultural and food products traded in the food supply chain.
“From my own survey, I have clearly shown that the share of the price of beef going to Irish farmers has dropped by one quarter over the last 15 years and we must now put this trend into reverse without delay as many suckler farmers will not survive until Christmas unless we have determined and decisive action,” deputy Naughten concluded.