The IFA this morning, December 5, began protesting at the Aldi distribution centre in Naas, Co Kildare, demanding a significant and immediate beef price increase to bring the Irish beef price at least in line with the Bord Bia European Export Benchmark Price Index.
IFA President Joe Healy said that farmers are sick of being short changed by meat factories and retailers on beef price.
He said, “The supply chain is delivering mega profits for factories and retailers at the expense of farmers.
"We can have all the reviews we like, but farmers need a price increase now.
"Before any talks last August, we insisted that the retailers had to be present, but they refused to take part. They have a dominant role in a dysfunctional food chain and they have to be held to account.” he continued.
Irish prices are currently 20c/kg or €80 per animal behind the Bord Bia price tracker, and 50c/kg or €180 behind the UK price. Prices here have been well behind the EU and UK beef price for weeks.
“To hear Meat Industry Ireland representatives after the Beef Taskforce talk about the ‘green shoots’ of a market recovery when the grass has been growing under their feet for weeks is an insult to farmers’ intelligence and another delaying tactic,” he said.
“Farmers won’t accept any more stalling or a Mickey Mouse price increase. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be at the EU Export Benchmark Price,” Mr Healy added.
“The retail sector has been driving down food prices without any consideration for the impact on primary producers. We hear a lot of talk from these retailers about Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability. Yet, they work hand in glove with processors without any consideration for the impact on farmers.
“The supply chain is failing and today we are blocking it for 12 hours. We will continue to take action until processors give a significant price increase,” he said.
Aldi Ireland have issued a statement on the protests, expressing their disappointment.
"Aldi is extremely disappointed by today’s IFA protest at its Naas Regional Distribution Centre.
"We welcomed the resumption of the Beef Taskforce this week and have engaged positively with farmer representative organisations on the beef issue over recent months. Aldi has a policy of open communications with all of its stakeholders, including the IFA.
"To be very clear, Aldi received no request for engagement on this issue from any member of the IFA leadership, no communication about specific concerns about the mechanics of the beef market, including age specification, and no warning of any grievance the IFA had before this morning."
Aldi state that they are 'fully committed' to co-operating with the Beef Taskforce and say they have even met with one of the representative groups, the Beef Plan Movement (BPM), as recently as last week to further update our position.
"As part of our preparations for the Taskforce, we have initiated research on a wide range of beef products to determine a number of issues. Our work also includes a complete review of procedures and processes with our suppliers to ensure we are meeting all customer and market requirements.
"Aldi is a proud supporter of Irish beef and all of our fresh meat, including our beef is 100% Irish and Bord Bia Assured. This is a cornerstone of our commitment to our customer.We remain committed to reporting back through the Taskforce and playing a fulsome role in the process. Any action outside of this process is short-sighted and not constructive.
"All of our stores are open and unaffected."