Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is Dunbia (Dungannon Meats) next for 'The Man'?

A member of the CALNI protest team from the Sial food expo in Paris drew my attention to the similarities between the new Moy Park logo and the logo for Brazilian beef.

It raises the question whether Moy Park is the centerpiece of a strategy to channel South American beef and poultry into the European market?

... and what would it mean for our local producers if they are?

One learns that its always good to explore all the options in business.  Very often rivals signal one strategy to confuse the competition, while aggressively working to a different plan behind the scenes.  Could this be what Marfrig (a.k.a 'The Man') and CEO Marcos Antonio are doing in Northern Ireland?

Could all the fuss over the Moy Park Incinerator really be a distraction drawing attention away from the real agenda?

Lets compare the rhetoric with the facts.

Over the last few years the rhetoric has been clear:  seven thousand jobs are in immediate peril if the Moy Park Incinerator is not given planning permission immediately.  The industry has been in this state of immediate peril since January 2008 and probably before.  Obviously it's almost three years on and the sky hasn't fallen in yet.  But anyone listening to the rhetoric would be forgiven for thinking that Moy Park could collapse at any moment; Marfrig share holders should be running for the exits!

The Marfrig Group's annual reports and analyst coverage of the company paint a different picture.  Moy Park is the centerpiece of the group's European business and poultry segment.  Returns in beef have been a bit depressed recently, and in 2010 the analysts see poultry as the leading part of the business.  Curiously while the rhetoric in Northern Ireland has been all doom and gloom, step up a level and poultry is presented as a great business!... which is it to be?

Similarly, from an investment standpoint, Marfrig have spent circa $1bn in the last few years to take control of their Northern Ireland based European centerpiece and transfer the debt offshore to HQ.  They made further strides this year, acquiring O'Kane Poultry and in doing so creating an effective monopoly over the NI poultry growers.  Not really the actions of a company who thinks the core Moy Park business could hurtle over the precipice at any moment.  It does, however, fit the profile of a business trying to aggressively penetrate the European market.

This apparent contradiction between the rhetoric and the facts should put both the politicians and InvestNI in a very difficult predicament; but they seem oblivious.

For example, InvestNI can justify robust action to protect jobs but the business case would wear very thin indeed if it was actually just subsidizing Marfrig's efforts to create a monopoly.  The problem with a monopoly over the growers is that it will inevitably lead to a significant reduction in the price per bird paid to the farmer; thereafter erosion of margins, inability to cover finance payments, destruction of businesses, bankruptcy, and the loss of family farms long held dear. 

Then there is the issue of import vs export.  InvestNI rightly gives priority to supporting export businesses.   What happens if the real strategy is to build a beach head to deliver South American beef and poultry into the UK and European Union? 

If it is inevitable that the monopoly over the growers will lead to a collapse in prices per bird; we can also infer that a conduit to channel South American beef into Europe via Northern Ireland could be the death knell for our beef farmers. 

Unfortunately, I'm not privy to Marfrig board room discussions, so I can only guess at what 'The Man' is actually thinking.  Perhaps he got sold a 'pup': the Moy Park business is in peril, and he's trying to make the most of a bad deal.  

Alternatively, Moy Park is the centerpiece of a his strategy to dominate Europe with imported South American beef and poultry. 

For me, the ultimate proof point would be if Marfrig were to acquire one of our leading beef processors to extend the European channel.  Dunbia (formerly Dungannon meats) would seem like the natural fit.  It is a high quality outfit located close to the center of gravity of the existing Moy Park business.  Could they be the next acquisition?

Watch this space!!

t: dannymoore_ni


1)  The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has previously expressed fears that Marfrig's acquisition of Moy Park would 'turn out to be a "Trojan Horse" for cheap Brazilian poultry imports'?  (Poultry International, 4 September 2008).
2)  For more information on Dunbia see: 
3)  For more information on CALNI including the Paris protest see:
4)  Brazilan Beef home page: 
5)  Moy Park logo:
6)  There are a number of online references to NFU fears that the Marfrig acquisition makes Moy Park "Trojan Horse" to channel Brazilian beef and poultry into Europe.   For example;

'the deal provoked a protest from the National Farmers' Union in Britain, which gave warning that the purchase of Moy Park should not become a "Trojan Horse" for the import of Latin American carcases into Europe.'

Friday, October 29, 2010

What! There are alternatives!?? (1)


Over the last few years the rhetoric from 'The Man' or at least Moy Park and some of our politicians is that there are no alternatives to large scale incineration, and often no alternatives to locating the plant in a designated beauty spot beside Lough Neagh with all its scientific designations.

We've heard over again that there are "No Alternatives" and "No Plan B."

For any readers not familiar with Northern Ireland, we were masters of simple rhetoric through the troubles, "Ulster says No!," "No Surrender!," etc.  My fear is that some people in the industry have become infected and blinkered in the dark days and don't seem to be able to comprehend the approach to big challenges taken by successful public companies the world over; namely putting in some thought up front and developing a few alternatives.

I'm not normally a fan of MBAs, but this could be one situation where an injection of new blood would really freshen up the thinking....  perhaps we should get a few management trainees over from Brazil to help??

The "What! There are alternatives!??" theme in this blog will keep you up to date with the alternative methods of chicken litter disposal being proposed for NI, or currently being used across Europe and the US.

To begin with there was a great article in the Guardian yesterday describing a digester based biogas CHP solution fed by poultry litter and delivering town heating to 350 homes in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

Yes!  There are alternatives!


t:  dannymoore_ni

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Standing up to 'The Man' - NIMBY Series Part 1

To begin with I've drafted a series of posts exploring the difficulties faced by communities objecting to even the most controversial of developments and the emotional struggles of being labelled a 'NIMBY' (Not in My Back Yard). 
The posts will centre on our experiences in setting up and running the CALNI (Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator) campaign over the last three years.  We expect that our tussle with 'The Man' will continue for at least another three to four years - so expect a running commentary going forwards!
CALNI is objecting to the construction of what has been dubbed 'The Moy Park Incinerator' at a designated beauty spot on the shores of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.  In our case 'The Man' is the Marfrig Group, a Brazilian multinational headed by Marcos Antonio Molina dos Santos.  Marfrig are expanding rapidly, having acquired some thirty eight companies globally through the credit crunch over the last three years, including local companies Moy Park Ltd and O'Kane Poultry[1].  If they aren't the dominant beef and poultry processor on the planet today, they soon will be.  McDonalds is one of their biggest customers.  
It is ironic that our struggle pits a rural Northern Ireland community, including indigenous Lough Neagh eel fishermen, against a South American company, but c'est la vie.  Changing times.....US & European multinationals pillaging the Amazon rain forest is so 1990!
So why focus on the emotions of being labelled a NIMBY? 
Firstly, objecting to developments and being branded a NIMBY is difficult.  Nothing ruins the mood at a business dinner, meeting, or party like the mention of an environmental issue such as the CALNI campaign.  I've lost friends over it, significant business opportunities, and it has created rifts within my extended family (though not those living in the area).  
Objectors are immediately branded as NIMBYs and there's no point denying it.  The term was undoubtedly coined by a well paid PR agency on behalf of a 'multinational' walking over a local community at some point in the past.  Objecting is a dirty business, and ordinary hard working citizens who care about the value of their homes, the health of their grand children, or just the environment are transformed into freaks and pariah simply by raising valid concerns.  The implication is that people who object to developments are 'anti business', 'anti job creation', 'anti progress', 'aren't doing their bit for society' and would rather that 'someone else carried the load'. 
That said, the encouraging thing has been that while mention of the environment or the CALNI campaign brings a certain stigma, some of the top business people I've had the pleasure of knowing over the years have been supportive of my position.  These included Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, who supported my position while I worked there (though it has to be said he did not know the specifics of the proposed incinerator or CALNI campaign - just that I wouldn't take a stance against it without good reason).  Peter Fitzgerald of Randox, a former winner of the Irish Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year and South Antrim's biggest employer, has been outspoken on this issue.  The late Sir Allen McClay, probably Northern Ireland's most prodigious entrepreneur, objected to an earlier waste management planning application for similar reasons to Peter's.  
Over the years the CALNI campaign has also been propelled forward by the efforts of Professor Sir George Bain, who ran the London BusinessSchool for a decade and sat on several dozen boards over the years, including 'Electra Investment Trust Plc', a leading private equity firm[2].
The series is intended to help communities across the world at loggerheads with 'multinationals' come to terms with being labelled a NIMBY.  Hopefully in doing so it will provide some useful insight to help you prevail against all the odds. 
t:  dannymoore_ni 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Slugger update on 'Lough Neagh Incinerator'


To give some background I've added a link to a recent Slugger O'Toole blog entry giving an update on the CALNI campaign.

There is a three minute video interview with yours truly embedded in the entry!  ... Enjoy!–-update-on-the-process/

Note, I never watch myself on screen, but got a lot of positive feedback so I assume it gives some useful perspective.


t:  dannymoore_ni

CALNI President's Blog

I'm kicking off this blog as the next step in taking the CALNI campaign to stop the incinerator planned in Glenavy truly global and virtual.

The team has just completed the migration to a the new website and consolidated content originally split across three sites into one.  The site is also based on a modern web publishing technology ('wordpress'), giving a lot more flexibility.  Refreshing our technology platform lays the foundation for the next three years of the campaign.   We realise that we must get our message to a much broader audience and compete with a rival with infinitely greater resources than we can muster.

Over the last few months I've become critically aware of the difficultly of trying to communicate the complex issues around the campaign to stop what has now been labelled "The Moy Park Incinerator," while simultaneously structuring a message in the simple sound bites required to get picked up by the press.  My intent is to use the blog to dig to the next levels of detail.

Apologies if there are some 'verbose' posts over the next few months!


t:  dannymoore_ni