Calls to delay Slaney Meats merger
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA)is demanding that the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC - formerly Competition Authority) delays issuing clearance to the reported merger between ABP and the Slaney Foods Group until a full examination of the following aspects of the merger is concluded and published.
ICSA also believe that all interested parties, including farmer representative associations should be consulted at every stage of this process.
The organisation wants to know to what extent competition for cattle will be hindered by the reduction in independent outlets competing for cattle with the big two of ABP and Dawn and to what extent does the acquisition reduce competition in the rendering trade, given that there will now effectively be only four category three outlets for handling fifth quarter products?
It also wants to know if the acquisition will undermine competition for niche Hereford and Angus beef given that Slaney was a main competitor to ABP for these important added value markets which are particularly important for key supermarket contracts and if the CCPC is concerned by the fact that a dominant player in the beef industry in Ireland and the UK is now in control of 40 per cent of sheep meat processing (via Irish Country Meats, part of the Slaney Foods Group) in Ireland as well?
ICSA president Patrick Kent said that there was huge alarm among cattle and sheep farmers that this deal will be disastrous for them. 'Farmers are very worried that this merger will be used to drive prices even lower. Many farmers believe that the cattle trade is operated almost like a cartel as there seems to be little difference in prices or in specifications. Most farmers associate the difficulties in getting better prices with the dominance of the ABP, Dawn and Kepak groups. This merger further consolidates the cattle trade in a small circle which leaves the farmer in an extremely vulnerable position.'
There is a meeting about the future of Slaney Meats due to take place on Thursday.