Irish Beef Reform Scuppered by Competition Ruling

IRELAND - The Irish beef industry’s attempts to reform have been scuppered by an ECJ ruling, which has judged a scheme for some processors to leave the market so as to raise profits for those who remain to be anti-competition.
calendar icon 21 November 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

The beef industry’s plan for consolidation has been a long saga, reports FoodProductionDaily. In 2002 Irish Beef Processors bandied together to form the Beef Industry Development Society (BIDS), in a bid to curb overproduction by processors. Some beef processors undertook to leave the industry.

Oversupply meant that none of the processors were operating at full capacity, since there was no market for all the processed beef that they could have been producing. A 1998 study concluded that the 22 players needed to be reduced to between four and six in order to make the industry profitable.

The recommendation was that smaller plants be decommissioned, and compensation be provided by a €2 per head of cattle levy on those remaining.

However the BIDS scheme was challenged by the Irish Competition Authority. The matter bounced from the Irish Supreme Court, which dismissed the ICA’s complaint, to the Irish Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in turn, passed it up to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

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