December 21, 2021


Poultry producers in Ireland to stage protest and highlight need for cost recovery



Egg and poultry-meat producers in Ireland were reportedly going to stage a protest in the town of Cavan on December 21 to highlight the urgent need for cost recovery within the sector.


The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) protest will target the five main retailers in Cavan, starting first with protesting outside Tesco, before moving on to other main players, including Dunnes Stores, SuperValu, Aldi and Lidl.


Poultry farmers are being squeezed in terms of the prices retailers have been paying for meat and eggs, according to IFA, particularly as costs of production continue to increase.


IFA representatives of egg and broiler producers have written to the main Irish supermarkets calling for an an "immediate increase" in the prices they are paying suppliers.


Failure to do so, puts the "entirety of the local poultry industry in jeopardy" the letters stated.


The letter added: "You have shown commitment to support local farmers and food producers over the years and, as farmers of top quality, Bord Bia Quality Assured produce, we need your company to step up and show support for our family farms."


The protest – in the heart of poultry country – aims to put pressure on the supermarkets to act now on the farmers' demands.


European Commission data shows that the price of chicken has remained stagnant since 2017, while farm costs such as labour, electricity, water, insurance and maintenance are up over 60% on this time last year.


Other costs such as detergents, disinfectants, washing and bedding material are also up over 20% on this time last year for broiler farmers.


IFA chair Andy Boylan, told Agriland that poultry-meat producers are seeking a 15c increase in the price of a chicken.


"There is an urgent need for cost recovery," he said. "We are in a very dangerous position at the moment and we feel very exposed. There hasn't been a price rise in four years, so what we want is a 15c increase in the price of a chicken and that is to cover costs. The farmer needs that amount," he said.


IFA vice chair Brendan Soden, said that they are looking for a 16% increase in the price of eggs.


"Egg prices have remained static – or have gone down – in Ireland for nearly 20 years now," he said. "According to recent European Commission data, the price of eggs across the 27 member states went up by 13.5% but in Ireland, the price of eggs came down by 8.5%."


This, he said, is attributed to a lot of undercutting in the market.


He explained: "Well, one of the things we are looking for is that supermarkets would give egg-packing companies longer contracts. Every year, there is new tendering for contracts and in order to win the contract you have to go in cheaper than your competitor. That has been going on and on for a number of years until, eventually, they have taken the whole profit out of it.


"As well as that, with the price of eggs not going up over the last 20 years, inflation just took away all our margin. When you are left sitting for so long, there is only so much you can take.


"We just want to get our point across... We have written to them [supermarkets] twice, and we have requested meetings but they haven't happened."


The egg committee chair said the organic egg sector is on the verge of collapse.


"The price of feed for them [organic farmers] has jumped 25-30% in the last couple of months and they aren't getting anything back to cover that," Soden said. "I think they have had an €80 (US$90.29) increase per tonne, over the last few months, on their feed. And they are facing another €70-80 (US$79-90.29) increase per tonne in the new year," Soden said.


"And we faced a €15/tonne (US$16.93) increase in standard layers ration this month, and facing between €20-30 (US$22.57-33.86) in January."


Feed additives too, are becoming very scarce, he said, which is also driving up costs.


- Agriland

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