The protest followed the revelation that chicken sold under Kerry’s Denny brand didn’t come from Ireland.
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) poultry chairman Andy Boylan said chicken growers needed a commitment from Kerry Foods to support Irish-produced chicken.
He said the fact that Kerry Foods originally said the chicken came from Brazil, but then that it came from other countries, only added to the general confusion for consumers.
IFA wants the country-of-origin of the primary source of meat used in prepared foods such as this Denny product to be clearly stated on the packaging to stop potentially misleading Irish consumers who may have thought they were buying locally-produced food.
He said: “This loophole in the current labelling legislation that Kerry Foods are exploiting to mislead consumers reinforces the importance of trusting the Bord Bia Quality Assurance label”.
He called on Irish MEPs and the EU Commissioner for Agriculture to ensure that this issue was highlighted and addressed as a matter of urgency at EU legislative level.
Boylan warned that Irish consumers felt “misled by a brand that they have loyalty to” and that “Kerry Foods has failed to show the same support for locally-produced Bord Bia Quality Assured chicken”.
“Poultry farmers have had their margins squeezed with all inputs increasing by 15-30% in the past two years,” he said. “They need an increase to cover their costs, and don’t want to see an Irish food company, Kerry Foods, and their brand Denny which is perceived as an Irish brand, using imported product.
“The Irish consumer values and trusts Irish poultry and all food processors should support locally produced chicken. For Kerry Foods to import chicken from across the globe when the most efficiently produced chicken is produced on their doorstep here is a disgrace and needs to be rectified.”
In a statement to the Irish media, Kerry Foods said that it “only uses industry-trusted EU suppliers, including some in the UK and Northern Ireland”.
“Each supplier meets our strict quality criteria and we regularly audit every supplier to ensure the highest standards of quality. Our packaging fully complies with the strict EU labelling regulations. The 'Made in Wicklow' claim refers to the product being cooked, cooled, sliced, packaged and labelled in Co Wicklow. Our Denny Chicken is fully prepared and packaged on our Shillelagh site.”