No luck for the Irish

Pig producers in Ireland have been left furious after meat processors dropped prices, according to one industry body.

Pigs committee chairman for the Irish Farmers' Association, Michael Maguire, warned that by dropping prices by 4 cents/kg, pigmeat processors would be damaging the industry at a time of dwindling supply figures.

Maguire said: "It was accepted over the last couple of weeks that market conditions were difficult. However, it appears that the processors badly misread the market last Friday.

"Both north and south of the border, processors made a concerted effort to drop their producer prices. This is despite the fact that increases were achieved in a number of the major pig-producing states. German, Austrian and Belgian producers saw an increase of 3c/kg whereas our Dutch counterparts achieved an increase of 4c/kg."

Irish white meat relies on a balance of trade in the European Union, but competing with over-supply in the world market hurt pig producers dearly last year.

"Pig producers have just come through the most difficult crisis ever experienced in the sector. Considerable debts were built up over the last 12 months and although prices have risen from the loss-making levels of the first quarter of 2008, Irish producers have been below the EU average all through 2008 and are only beginning to recover in earnest," said Maguire.

He added that processors had acted weakly by reducing prices when paying suppliers, rather than increasing costs to customers, and said that producers expected "the price drop to be reversed with immediate effect" in line with processors on the Continent.

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