The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan had criticised the processor for bringing in Polish beef to stock UK supermarket shelves during the wave of panic buying when the coronavirus pandemic first hit the country.
Cullinan said that “this was a kick in the teeth for Irish farmers”.
“The European beef market is in turmoil,” he said. “This has impacted more severely in Ireland as we are an export nation. We are being told by processors like ABP that the market for Irish beef has collapsed, yet we see the Irish-owned company filling orders with Polish beef.”
‘Unprecedented increase in demand’
In response to these accusations, an ABP spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews: “At the end of March, many of our retail customers experienced panic buying, as people prepared to remain at home in response to Covid-19. This resulted in an unprecedented increase in demand over a very short period of time and processing capacity was not able to meet the surge in demand.
“To ensure that consumers would continue to be served during this national emergency, ABP temporarily supplemented its existing supply chain with European beef, including Poland. This product is produced to the same exacting traceability and quality standards as all ABP products. This was a temporary measure related to one product which was clearly labelled and was aimed to meet the surge in demand at that time. Supply arrangements are now reverting to normal.”
This comes as the IFA made an appeal to the Irish Government and the EU Commission for market stabilisation measures. “We have had many meetings with our European counterparts in preparation for a key EU meeting on Monday,” Cullinan added.
“We made it clear last week that the whole sector needs to pull together to put a case forward to the Commission. I made the point that this crisis provided an opportunity for the processing sector to build trust by supporting farmers at this time. What has happened here will only serve to make matters worse.”