At a meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce today (Thursday, April 22), one farm organisation expressed “absolute dissatisfaction” at a report into the price composition along the beef supply chain.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) also expressed frustration at Meat Industry Ireland’s (MII) showing and the fact that individual processors haven’t been called to address the taskforce.

Edmund Graham, the association’s beef chairperson, said he was “outraged” at the delay in inviting representatives from individual processors to the taskforce.

“[We] had specifically requested that individual meat processors be brought into the taskforce to answer serious questions about the uniform cuts to beef prices in February and to explain the huge differential between Irish and UK steer prices.”

“We are not getting the answers we need from their representative body [MII] and the delay is getting the factory bosses in to speak for themselves is unacceptable,” Graham argued.

He went on: “Market developments since February have shown that all the excuses given back then to explain away the price cuts were unjustified.

“[MII] spoke around issues like Brexit stockpiling and UK markets, but the reality is they could have supplied us with actual real information about the prices at which they are selling Irish product into various markets,” Graham claimed.

“Indeed, this is exactly the kind of information that Grant Thornton was seeking to compile their report on price composition along the supply chain.”

The ICSA beef chairperson argued that it was a “major stumbling block” that Grant Thornton was not able to access a full set of data from processors or retailers on beef pricing.

He said: “While we know there has been some cooperation, there has not been enough cooperation to produce a robust report. As such, ICSA has registered its absolute dissatisfaction with the report and its ability to shed any light on the beef sector.”

Graham concluded: “The situation proves yet again that a regulator armed with the necessary powers to audit the entire food chain is the only course of action to pursue.”