It has been in the news this week that Dawn Meats and Dunbia are set to merger their UK portions of the markets.
Mr. Fitzmaurice says that it doesn’t spell good news for Irish farmers as he it leaves less room for negotiation in prices as there are less operators in control. "The news this week that Dawn Meats is to become the biggest beef processor in the country after it's takeover of Dunbia is not good news for farmers and will mean that the whole beef and sheep meat processing industry is being controlled by just a few operators which is very bad for competition" .
He says this will directly affect competition in the markets. He feels this should have been halted by the EU and Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, and says that the EU are now turning a blind eye to the situation. "I made the same comments a few years ago when AIPB took over Slayney Meats and now we have a situation where two operators control over 51% of the beef and sheep meat procressing industry. This is bad news for farmers and it means that as time goes on there will be less and less competition. With regard to the EU and the Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, they seem to be turning a blind eye to this situation.”
He also pointed to the recent collapsed takeover of Aer Lingus by Ryanair as a prime example “It is ironic that only a couple of years ago the EU would not allow Ryanair to take over Aer Lingus because of competition issues yet the same rules do not seem to apply to the Agriculture sector".
Fitzmaurice continued by saying the only thing keeping prices up are the current increased live exports, and they will prove vital to the future of the industry. "It is live exports that are keeping beef prices up at the moment and it is vital that we continue to hold on to the live export markets that we have and that new markets must be developed.”
He concluded by calling on Minister Creed to inform the people of the situation “This almost monopoly situation by a couple of major players in the meat processing industry is not a welcome development where farmers, and particularly small farmers are concerned and I am calling on Minister Creed to make a statement on the matter".