22 April 1998
St Merryn Meats defends its producer clubs

By Boyd Champness

ST MERRYN Meats – the UKs largest meat processor – has defended its use of invitation-only producer clubs.

Barton Stacey, St Merryn Meats director, said it was unfair to blame the emergence of producer clubs for low prices the demise of auction markets.

“If you go back 10 years or 20 years, there were many more auction markets. They have been losing their share of the market over the years. This is not something that has just happened in the past two years,” Mr Stacey said.

Speaking to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee inquiry into the livestock industry, Mr Stacey refuted claims that producer clubs kept prices low by offering only a small premium to auction markets.

Mr Stacey said auction markets didnt come into play when the company set its prices. He said St Merryn based its price structure and selection of animals on years of experience.

“We certainly dont just sit down on a Thursday night and say `whats the market doing. This is how much we are prepared to pay,” he said.

Brendan Hughes, managing director, said Tesco bought 85% of St Merryns packed fresh meat. But he said the giant supermarket chain did not dictate what price St Merryns offers its farmers.

He said the only requirements Tesco insisted on were quality, traceability and consistency of supplies.