Written Answers. - Abattoir Facilities.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

86 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the degree to which slaughtering facilities are adequate or surplus to requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19492/03]

The McKinsey report on the beef industry identified significant over capacity in the processing sector. It found that average weekly cattle slaughter is 32,000 head, rising to 45,000 head at peak period, while overall slaughtering capacity is of the order of 66,000 head. In November 1998 I established the beef task force which consisted of representatives of all those connected to the beef industry. The task force endorsed the finding of McKinsey in relation to over capacity and recommended that this be addressed in the interests of long-term competitiveness. The beef processing industry has developed a rationalisation plan which is being examined by the Competition Authority.

As regards the pigmeat sector, the Prospectus study of the pig industry found that there was significant excess slaughter capacity and that this was impairing the competitiveness of the sector. This study was conducted prior to the fire at the Rooskey plant and the withdrawal of a couple of smaller operators from the business. Some 3.04 million pigs were slaughtered in 2002, a decline of 5% on the previous year. Indications so far this year are that slaughtering is down by around 8%. I am satisfied that pig slaughtering capacity is adequate for the current supply of pigs.