‘The days when offal and skins had no value are gone’

The day has passed when offal and skins had no value and the farmer must now get a fair share of the profits processors get from those products, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) beef chairman Edmond Phelan.

Figures from Bord Bia show that the value of offal exports equalled €230 million in 2017; this represented an increase of 9% and reversed the decline witness in 2016.

The total value of beef exports, including offal, in the year just gone was €2.5 billion – this was an increase of 5% overall.

Phelan was pleased that some clarity is finally emerging regarding the value of the fifth quarter. These figures also vindicated the ICSA’s position at the beef forum, in which the association suggested that up to €150 extra revenue per animal was accruing to meat factories, he added.

There was a time when offal and skins had limited or no value and in fact were costing money to dispose of; those days are long gone.

“Instead, the fifth quarter is becoming more and more valuable. We have seen factories invest in new facilities to reap the benefits; but, they have been very reluctant to admit that farmers should be getting some of the benefit,” the beef chairman said.

From Bord Bia’s figure of €230 million for the value of offal exports from Ireland, the ICSA indicates that this figure equates to about €135 per animal across all categories.

‘A real bonanza for processors’

Continuing, Phelan said: “Bord Bia is looking at all parts of the animal to see where there might be opportunities with countries in south-east Asia proving very valuable from an offal and by-product point of view.

“2018 is predicted to see another rise in the numbers of cattle slaughtered, with some 1.8 million expected.

Processors do not pay for offal and other by-products and also have the benefit of Bord Bia actively looking for markets for these products they get for free.

“This can only be described as a real bonanza for processors. It’s another reason why there is a need for a review of the grid as it no longer seems fit for purpose as a way of determining what the farmer is owed.

“It also highlights again that the ICSA has been absolutely correct in looking for much more transparency around who earns what along the complete supply chain from farmers to processors to retailers,” he said.

Concluding, Phelan called for the Beef Forum to be reconvened at the earliest possible stage in order to discuss this matter.