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A truck backs in for its load at the Kepak premises in Tiermaclane last summer., Kepak is still shut after its temporary closure last February. Photograph by John Kelly

Fears grow over future of Kepak meat factory

CLARE IFA officers are planning to seek a meeting with Kepak representatives amid growing concern about whether their meat factory in Drumquin will re-open following its closure on February 14.

IFA chairman, Tom Lane told the Clare Champion officers were keen to meet Kepak executives to question them about their future plans for the plant.

Mr Lane said Kepak had some contracts with local beef finishers, which it was honouring by slaughtering their animals outside the county.

“I would like to see Kepak re-open in Drumquin,” he said.

Clare Beef Plan chairman, Joe Woulfe has expressed concern about the long delay in re-opening Kepak’s Drumquin plant.

Mr Woulfe is worried that Kepak’s Clare plant may not re-open and has been informed that some equipment may have been transferred off site.

He said management should have sat down with local farming representatives to work out a future for the plant.

Last February, Kepak staff were told two days before its closure that is would shut down for four to six weeks, due to “challenging market conditions.

In a statement issued to the newspaper at the time, the company confirmed the future of the factory would remain under review during the “temporary closure”.

“Despite a comprehensive review and significant efforts to keep the Clare abattoir operational, management at Kepak has determined that the site is no longer competitive.

“Against a backdrop of challenging market conditions for the beef industry in Europe, Kepak Clare has been procuring cattle at a price premium associated with markets such as the United States, China and the UK.

“However, given Kepak Clare is not approved for export to such markets, it consequently cannot achieve the associated price premium to remain competitive, leaving no alternative to a temporary closure,” the company stated.

Kepak Clare was acquired in 2016 and employed 21 people, which is almost half of the 47 workforce when Kepak took it over from John Kelly Meats in September 2016.

Efforts by the Clare Champion to secure a response from Kepak to a number of queries proved unsuccessful.

Dan Danaher

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