Dawn Meats’ CEO Niall Browne has told Agriland that his company has never felt the need to question any of the specification or husbandry changes requested of them by supermarket customers over the past number of years. These criteria include alterations to carcase specifications and the number of residencies recorded for cattle prior to slaughter.

“This is because we have always felt that the changes requested of us made sense. And in those instances, when customers had asked for very specific supply requirements, we were always given the opportunity to speak with individual farmers who, in turn, were given sufficient time to meet the animal specifications that we had requested of them.”

Speaking to Agriland at last week’s Agricultural Science Association (ASA) annual conference, Niall Browne went on to point out that his company had always given farmer suppliers ample warning to specification changes.

“In fact, we had given our own producers two years’ warning of the most recent specification changes that were coming down the track from the supermarkets.”

The Dawn Meats’ representative also confirmed that he was not aware of the UK supermarkets requesting any further specifications within the foreseeable future.

“And whenever changes are requested, farmers will be given ample opportunity to change their husbandry practises,” he stressed.

Commenting on the specific prospects for beef prices in Ireland Niall Browne pointed out that Ireland’s weekly national kill may well drop below the 30,000 head per week threshold later in the year and during the early months of 2015.

“We could well be looking at a weekly kill of around 28,000 head, once we get into the New Year. And if supplies tighten, then there is every prospect of farm gate returns strengthening, particularly if demand is boosted by the opening of international markets. The other issue to be taken account of is the fact that the supermarkets in the UK have not actively promoted beef as much this year as in previous years. If this policy was to change in the near future, it would have a beneficial impact on the beef trade as a whole.”