Processors show ‘lack of commitment’ to NI cattle producers

Meat processors have been accused of taking advantage of Northern Irish beef producers, by not providing them with fair prices.

According to Crosby Cleland, Ulster Farmers’ Union beef and lamb chairman, local processors are pulling prices and not helping towards improving marketing conditions in Great Britain. This, he said, was cause for concern.

“Over the past month, beef prices in Great Britain have been quietly improving as a result of a strong demand for prime cattle,” explained Cleland. “In contrast, over the last four weeks, Northern Ireland beef processors have attempted to drag prices down and take advantage of farmers’ struggles with the poor weather. This is difficult for producers to comprehend, as costs increase going into the autumn.”

Cleland highlighted that while the Northern Ireland/Great Britain differential has been a big concern for farmers in the past, it has been fairly limited for most of this year. Despite this, the differential has grown in recent weeks, creating alarm. “Northern Ireland beef is largely being sold at premium prices on the shelves of the big UK retailers, so there is absolutely no reason why processing companies here cannot return beef prices comparable with those in Great Britain,” he added.

“The fact that they are currently unwilling to match prices being paid in Great Britain shows a lack of commitment from processors to support their supply base.”

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