Dawn Meats Secures €300 million McDonald's Beef Contract

Deal sees Dawn Meats invest €14.5 million in a new beef processing facility in Waterford, creating 65 new jobs

McDonald’s Ireland and Dawn Meats today (23rd May 2012) announced that Dawn Meats has been awarded a five year €300 million contract to process up to 18,000 tonnes of Irish beef annually for McDonald’s.

Pictured at the announcement are (l-r): Adrian Crean, Managing Director of McDonald’s Ireland, Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Niall Brown, Group CEO of Dawn Meats Group
Pictured at the announcement are (l-r): Adrian Crean, Managing Director of McDonald’s Ireland, Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Niall Brown, Group CEO of Dawn Meats Group

The deal has led Dawn Meats to invest €14.5 million in a new purpose built, state of the art, beef processing facility in Carroll’s Cross, Co Waterford, creating 65 new jobs. This investment is supported by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland. In addition, over 100 construction jobs have been created during the construction phase of the facility, which commenced in December 2011. The new jobs mean that Dawn Meats now employs over 1,400 people in Ireland.

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney T.D. welcomed the deal as an ‘enormous boost’ to the Irish beef sector today.  The construction of the 40,000 square foot facility, which includes the very latest energy efficient technology and the longest freezer line of its kind in Europe, is nearing completion. The plant will officially open for production next month.  

The deal arose from a review of beef processing capacity across McDonald's Europe which identified the need for an additional processing plant in Europe to meet current and future growth requirements. Ireland was identified as a strategically important market with the potential for long term assured supply and Dawn Meats, who have partnered with McDonald's for the past 25 years, were given the opportunity to extend this relationship on the value added processing side. Previously, Irish beef had been transported to the UK and Europe for processing, before entering the McDonald’s supply chain in those markets. The move means that the products to be exported from Ireland are higher value add finished beef products, instead of unprocessed beef.

McDonald’s is the single largest purchaser of Irish beef by volume, purchasing approximately 40,000 tonnes of Irish beef annually and it expects to grow this further in the years ahead. The company exported €110 million worth of Irish beef in 2011, up from €80 million in 2008. 18,000 Quality Assured Irish farmers supply beef into the McDonald’s system. Currently, approximately 20% of all beef used in McDonald’s Europe is of Irish origin meaning one in every five hamburgers purchased in McDonald’s restaurants across Europe is made of Irish beef. 

Speaking at the announcement today, Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD said: ‘This deal is an enormous boost for the Irish beef sector and is a further advance in achieving the targets of the Food Harvest 2020 report.  Companies like Dawn Meats are leading the way for Irish agriculture and helping the beef sector become a flagship for Ireland in terms of quality, sustainability and efficiency. Beef exports from Ireland increased by 15% in 2011, bringing the value of exports to €1.8 billion. This deal with McDonald’s shows the enormous international growth opportunity for the sector and speaks volumes for the ability of companies like Dawn Meats to compete and win on the international stage. It is for this reason that a continued focus on producing high quality beef while maintaining competitiveness is critically important for the sector.’

Niall Browne, Chief Executive of Dawn Meats said that the expansion was the latest stage in a period of development for the company: ‘We are delighted to have been awarded this business with McDonald’s, a hugely important customer with whom we have enjoyed an excellent relationship over the past 25 years. I would like to thank all the team at Dawn Meats for their commitment as well as our farmer suppliers who produce sustainable, quality assured, welfare friendly beef.

Adrian Crean, Managing Director of McDonald’s Ireland said that the decision by McDonald’s to award the contact to Dawn Meats was driven by the success of the longstanding business relationship between the two companies and by the quality and reliability of the Irish beef sector.

‘McDonald’s is hugely supportive of the Irish beef sector and we believe that Irish beef, which is produced from cattle reared on a natural diet, grazing extensively in open fields during Ireland’s long grass season, is one of the best there is. Today’s announcement sees the vertical integration of McDonald’s beef supply chain, with supply, slaughter and processing now all taking place in Ireland, leading to increased value add and enabling companies like Dawn Meats to create and sustain Irish jobs.  We look forward to working with Dawn Meats and our other Irish suppliers in growing the amount of Irish produce we purchase and export to our international supply chain, in the years ahead.’

Recruitment for the new positions at Carroll’s Cross is underway. Testing and production trials at the new, state of the art facility have commenced and the facility will be officially opened next month.


For further information, please contact:

Martha Kavanagh / Ronan O’Keeffe, Drury
Tel: 01 260 5000 / 087 646 2006 / 086 887 9123

Ray Farrelly, McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland
Tel: 086 381 2881

About McDonald’s Ireland

There are now 81 McDonald’s restaurants in operation nationwide with four new stores opening in 2011. McDonald’s expansion plans last year have seen the company become the third largest multinational employer in Ireland with nearly 4,000 employees. McDonald’s was first established in Ireland in 1977 and is celebrating 35 years in Ireland this year. The company also supplies Irish dairy produce and eggs into the McDonald’s system internationally.

About Dawn Meats

Dawn Meats was established in 1980, with its headquarters located in Waterford, Ireland. It is one of Europe's largest food processing companies and meat suppliers.