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NI pork products could disappear if shoppers don’t pay up, warn farmers

Some of Northern Ireland shoppers’ favourite pork products could disappear from supermarket shelves, farmers have warned.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says that ‘eyewateringly’ high costs mean local pig producers are strugging to sustain their farm businesses and have warned that shoppers must be prepared to pay higher prices to help alleviate the pressure on farmers.

The UFU says soaring input prices are putting cash flow into the negative and that extra production costs needs to filter up the supply chain to ease the pressure.

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UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “Soaring feed prices combined with eyewatering energy and red diesel increases has many pig producers facing a stark reality, questioning whether they will be able to survive the inflation for much longer.

“Input costs are destroying the viability of pig production in Northern Ireland (NI) and our producers are experiencing massive losses like never before. The situation is not sustainable. In a matter of weeks our members will be forced to reduce pork production if retailers and processors don’t step in urgently.

“They have the ability to ensure that a supply of locally reared, Red Tractor pork continues to be available to consumers.

“Pork prices in store need to reflect the current cost of production to sustain the sector. With everything that is going on in the world we need to be doing everything to protect our food security and local food production here in NI, not standing back watching farm families struggling to survive another day in business.

“Consumers may not be pleased about increases to pork, but it’s crucial that input costs filter up the supply chain to alleviate the pressure upon farm families. If the NI pig sector collapses because producers were not given the support they needed, consumers will face a huge loss too. Local pork products produced to world leading standards will disappear from shop shelves and even imports produced to lower standards will be hard to come by as they are not widely available.

Pigs on Norman Robson's farm in Doagh, Co Antrim. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

“We need everyone to get behind our pig farmers helping them to ride out one of the most difficult periods they have ever experienced. As primary food producers, upon whom the entire agri-food industry is built upon, they cannot be left to take the hit of soaring production costs alone as they simply will go out of business.”

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