‘Traditional market supports may not work’ – MII

Traditional market supports for the meat processing sector – including intervention and Aids to Private Storage (APS) – may not work in the current market environment, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned.

MII, which represents the meat processing sector in Ireland, called for other forms of market supports to be provided by the European Commission “without delay”.

Cormac Healy, the senior director of MII, said: “Processors, particularly in beef and lamb, are under pressure to maintain throughput levels given the loss of the important food service market channel.

The Covid-19 pandemic is causing serious devaluation of finished livestock prices as key market channels and certain EU markets are effectively closed, and the mix of sales through retail outlets is skewed heavily towards lower value cuts.

“MII has communicated these market issues to all the stakeholders and to the Government. While traditional market supports [intervention and APS] may not work in this case, other forms of support must be brought forward by the European Commission without delay,” Healy argued.

He went on to say: “Continued operations in meat processing are only possible due to the incredible commitment and efforts of staff at meat plants, of farmers and hauliers and all service providers to the industry.

“Despite the major market impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on meat markets across Europe, in particular the food service channel, meat processing is continuing today at facilities across the country, albeit at reduced levels,” the MII senior director added.

Meat processing is essential to the continuity of food supply in the domestic, European and international supply chains, and to facilitating orderly movement of animals from farms.

Healy called on all meat plant staff, farmers and hauliers to work with the guidelines and protocols in place at meat processing facilities, and stressed the importance of companies “ensuring that every possible measure is taken to protect all those working and engaged in the meat sector”.