The greater Cappoquin community remains on tenterhooks as Cappoquin Chickens’ examinership period continues, according to the IFA.
This sentiment was expressed last week by the Association’s Carton Chicken Grower Group Chair Paddy Reilly.
“Cappoquin is another Irish chicken company that is being completely usurped by imported products in their main business, the catering trade,” said Mr Reilly.
“The entire community of Cappoquin is dependent on this company and is therefore waiting anxiously for the outcome of the current examinership process.”
The company was placed under examinership by the High Court in May, with the matter being brought back before the court on Tuesday next, September 2nd.
In early August, UK-based Derby Poultry purchased a 25.8 per cent stake in Cappoquin Chickens, but deep fears persist locally and within the industry that the company faces an uncertain future.
The examiner, Deloitte’s Aidan O’Connell, compiled a report which called for “significant restructuring” of the business, including a “searching examination” of costs, as well as improving its supply chain management and operating efficiency.
Meanwhile, Mr Reilly also spoke about the Carton Group’s (sole suppliers of chicken to Superquinn and SuperValu) proposal to reduce producers’ pay by 15 per cent.
“This is an unacceptable action against farmers who were informed by e-mail from the company management that a €60 per 1000 birds cut would be implemented (as of this) Monday,” he said.
“This message was put out to the producers in advance of negotiations with the IFA Grower committee, in an effort to put pressure on farmers.
“It is a shameless way to treat producers, many of whom have massive borrowings for state of-the-art poultry producing facilities.”
For his part, Carton Group Chief Executive Vincent Carton told The Munster Express that discussions between the company and growers were ongoing.
“We went to our growers and explained to them the threat that’s coming from Northern Ireland producers,” said Mr Carton.
“And that threat is very real. In the North they pay their growers a lot less and for us to compete with them led us to make the €60 per 1000 birds proposal.”
Party to the current talks, Paddy Reilly didn’t mince his words when it came to the proposal currently on the table.
“It is simply not possible to produce chicken for the price that Cartons are suggesting, not with the standards that apply in this country,” he said.
“Everyone knows that the cost of producing proteins has rocketed in the last year. These costs have not been recovered so a cut in price is just not feasible.
“Almost all chicken bought at catering level in hotels and restaurants is imported and therefore its standard of production, welfare and traceability are questionable.”
Mr Reilly claimed that retailers are bringing in chickens “where the origin is disputed and there is no law to protect the consumer”.
He added: “The fact that our own Irish consumer agency has been telling people to move away from the Quality Irish product to cheaper more dubious replacements is disgraceful.”
No doubt, we’ll be hearing more about both elements of this story in the days and weeks to come.