The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) poultry chairman Andy Boylan has urged retail customers to re-evaluate how they pay their poultry producer suppliers.
Under current arrangements, chickens are classified as small, medium and large, and poultry farmers are paid a set price, depending on the weight scale a bird falls within. According to Boylan, this works to the advantage of retailers and means producers are losing out financially.
He said: “The current system essentially results in retailers getting up to 200 grams (g) for free on certain birds. This is completely unacceptable at a time when poultry producers are struggling with increased production costs.”
Boylan suggested that the poultry system should fall in line with other proteins. “If we look at other meats, such as beef, retailers charge customers by weight for the product. It’s transparent, in that if you ask for 800g of mince, the butcher weighs it and you pay for 800g. This does not happen with poultry. A small chicken is classified as weighing between 1,100-1,300g.
“Retailers pay poultry producers a flat price, regardless of the weight of the bird. I know from my own facility that it’s impossible to keep a bird at an exact weight of 1,100g, which means retailers often end up getting product for free. This has to change. Chicken feed costs have increased dramatically in 2018, as have energy costs, labour and the general cost of doing business. The retailers that ultimately sell chicken to the consumer need to recognise the true costs of sustainable production.
“Supermarkets put pressure on producers to produce chicken to a very high Bord Bía standard, and this unfair trading practice has to end.”