Carthy to ask Competition Commissioner to investigate ABP Slaney deal
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy this week expressed his concern at the recent announcement that the ABP Food Group is to buy a 50% stake in Slaney Foods, based in Wexford.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Mr Carthy said,
"This move will see ABP taking control of over a quarter of Ireland's beef processing industry. This is worrying for a number of reasons.
"From a competition point of view, controlling a quarter of the Irish market will amount to clear market domination by ABP Food group to the detriment of smaller processors and, I believe, to the farmers who supply the product.
"The meat processing sector has long been controlled by a limited number of key players and this deal would go even further in strengthening their stranglehold on the sector. For consumers this means higher prices, reduced choice and fewer places on the market for new players with something different to offer.
"Secondly, ABP have already relayed an intention to introduce a £1 per kg cut for cattle that are finished in England but born in Ireland. This is supposedly based on claims by British retailers that consumers aren't willing to accept cattle reared in Ireland and finished in England.
"This will have a detrimental impact on live export of cattle and will subsequently impact of the price farmers receive for all beef.
A member of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture & Rural Development, Mr Carthy continued:
"If other players are pushed out of the market this will result in a higher concentration of slaughter in certain parts of the country, creating all kinds of logistical difficulties for small farmers in remote areas.
"Before the transaction is allowed to go ahead, the Competition Authority will be called upon to determine whether this merger violates anti-competition rules. While the authority has been present in giving warning for price fixing activities, they have yet to make an announcement on the merger.
"Such a determination must take into account the further strain that will be imposed on farmers who already struggle on a daily basis to get fair prices for cattle.
"The deepening dominance of these players is extremely worrying, not least for their ability to push others out of the market but also for their ability to dictate the terms of exports by Irish farmers. I will continue to engage with policy makers around this and related issues, to ensure the voice of the Irish Farmers is heard.
"As a first step I will be writing to the European Competition Commissioner requesting that they investigate all aspects of the proposed purchase before it proceeds."