March 24, 2020
McDonald's closure to have huge blow on beef sector
The decision by fast food outlet McDonald's, the biggest buyer of Irish beef, to close all its Irish restaurants will have a big impact on an already struggling beef industry.
McDonald's is spending more than EUR160 million on Irish beef for local consumption and at restaurants all over Europe.
Two in 10 burgers sold in its outlets in Europe are made from Irish beef. McDonald's scale as a buyer of Irish beef is huge, purchasing around 40,000 tonnes of beef every year.
Fast food outlets are big buyers of beef, Supermacs spends an estimated EUR40 million every year on Irish food produce, EUR9 million of that on chicken alone.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has described the announcement as a "big blow", but said it was "understandable".
The IFA has said that the European Commission must "stand ready to support the EU beef market" as the impact of COVID-19 is felt across member states.
The meat trade generally has been impacted badly by the spread of the virus. Of beef exported from Ireland, 30% is for use in the food service, like bars, restaurants and takeaways and that trade has all but "collapsed" according to industry insiders.
A peak in demand on the retail front has helped the industry, but, it is not enough to make up the loss suppliers have felt from the food service side of their business.
Up to now, high-end cuts likes steaks had seen a huge drop off in sales, this decision from McDonald's means that lesser value cuts will now also be hit.