IFA members protesting outside Aldi this morning. Photo: Damian McCarney

Poultry farmers mount Cavan protests for price rise

IFA say they will continue protest until discount retailers engage

Cavan poultry and egg farmers were this morning back on familiar territory, armed with familiar placards, making familiar demands.

The IFA staged protests at major discount retailers Aldi and Lidl last January where they were seeking 15c in the price of chicken, and 2c on eggs. At the same time the US intelligence reports claimed that Russian soldiers were massing at the Ukrainian Border. But at that stage, any talk of European conflict sounded like scaremongering.

What concessions achieved by the farmer protests have since been gobbled up by a spike in input costs, chiefly electricity, of course accelerated by the Russian invasion.

Again farmers are warning of producers facing closure as they operate at a loss.

IFA's Brendan Soden

"It's still the same," says Brendan Soden, vice chairman of the IFA poultry committee. "We need another 2c an egg just to stay in business - just to be at break even, not to make a profit. It seems to be falling on deaf ears all the time."

Brendan claimed that the broiler producers amongst them still hadn't received the 15c "in full" from the January protests.


The Lavey farmer notes that egg farmers are "heavy users" of electricity for ventilation, lighting and automated feeding systems. Brendan gives the example of his own bill: up from €2,400 per month last year to between €5,500-€6,000 per month currently.

Amongst the placards erected at the Aldi store entrance is one which claims a half dozen eggs cost €2.19 in 2012; a decade later, the same number of eggs comes in 15% cheaper at €1.89.

"Our price has not moved in 10 to 15 years, but inflation has caught up on us. It has taken all our profit away, and then we hit a year like this where all the prices suddenly shoot up, and then we're in negative territory very fast," says Brendan whose contract is with a packing company, but whose eggs all go to Aldi.

"It was coming, but this [inputs hike] has just hurried it up. It's not by choice that we're still supplying, them, it's by necessity because the loans have to be paid - everything has to be paid."

Citing Teagasc stats that on average, farmers are losing 7c per dozen eggs, Brendan says he's closing one of his five sheds in the next month.

"It's one of my larger sheds but it has just become non-profitable to do it - I've had to lay staff off," he says.

"There's no point trying to produce eggs below cost. We're heading into a winter where avian flu is going to be around the corner - another big risk, the cost of replacing birds is not making sense unless money comes back.

"It's up to the supermarkets - if they want Irish eggs on the shelf, Irish farmers have to be paid for them," says Brendan.

IFA members outside Lidl store this morning. Photo: Damian McCarney

It's understood one major retailer has responded to farmers demands, however Brendan Soden says they have been outlining their problems with the discount retailers for the last three months without result.

There is one significant difference between today's protest and the 24-hour protest in January: farmers vow to stay in place for as long as it takes for the retailers to engage.