9 Sep 2008

Merger may mean rise in meat prices

3:06 pm on 9 September 2008

Consumer New Zealand says shoppers could pay more for meat because of a big merger in the rural sector.

PGG Wrightson is to pay $220 million for a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms, formerly PPCS.

The Beef and Lamb Bureau, which markets meat in New Zealand, does not think the merger will lead to meat price increases.

However, Consumer New Zealand says there is a consumer concern with any large merger that reduces the competition in the market, as seen in the dairy industry where there is only one main supplier of milk.

Lincoln University agribusiness Professor Keith Woodford says the merger could cause a procurement war.

He says that would push down the margins between retailers and producers - to the detriment of processing companies, not consumers.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand says the merger needed to happen because meat producers have run at a loss in recent seasons.

Chief executive Rod Slater calls it a major confidence booster and ultimately good news for the consumer.