Mr Brooks, feels that Tesco, by doing this, are undermining premium spring lamb producers around the country. Of the supermarkets low prices he said “Tesco is currently selling leg of spring lamb at a ridiculously low price of €8.69/kg. This can only be described as below cost selling. This will have the effect of putting farmers out of business. ICSA is calling for this practice to stop immediately. Farmers need at least €7/kg for high cost early spring lamb systems and allowing for processing costs, it is clear that a retail price of €8.69/kg is unsustainable. Meanwhile, retailers seem to have no problem getting €33/kg for farmed salmon.”
He also went further by adding that “Spring lamb has to be marketed as a premium product. This puts it way below the cost of most steak cuts and much closer to mince price.”
The Irish Cattle and Sheep farmer’s association feel that Tesco neglect to understand/emphatise with farmers over the high costs and complexity involved with early lamb production.
Mr Brooks added “Spring lamb producers excelled as usual. They carefully planned lambing dates /sale dates, cared for their flock pre-and post-lambing at a time of year when you have long winter nights and feed costs are at a maximum in order to have a premium product ready for Easter and early summer.”
He went onto claim that these low prices are cheating hardworking farmers stating that “It's now the time of year when early spring lamb producers are calculating their losses from their enterprise. After all this work the industry cheats us by paying a bad price and introducing spurious weight limits.”
The Sheep chairman of the ICSA also named prices at which he thought farmers would be able to cope, “Early spring lamb producers need a minimum of €7/kg and a realistic weight limit of 22kgs in order to leave farmers with a small profit margin.”
This year the industry colluded to ensure the price barely exceeded €6/kg and the meat industry imposed a spurious weight limit as low as 20kgs which has seriously affected the market.