Embattled pig farmers are facing a crisis in the sector as rising costs and supply chain disruptions are causing huge financial pressure on farms throughout Northern Ireland, according to a recent forum.
Longstanding issues, i.e. the well-documented labour shortage, are still taking their toll; meanwhile, feed prices continue to escalate.
The war in Ukraine has now further exacerbated the crisis with rising energy and fuel prices -which show no sign of abating.
According to the Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum, increased costs must filter up the supply chain if the sector is to remain sustainable.
“Our sector is renowned for its resilience, but in recent months the challenges continue to stack up and our farmers have nowhere to turn," said forum chief executive Deirdre McIvor.
"Pork prices in-store need to reflect the huge increase in running costs being experienced by our farmers.
"Only if the entire supply chain pulls together will we be able to protect local pork production in Northern Ireland.
"The unthinkable alternative is that a £440 million industry will fail.”
The huge financial issues faced within the sector are causing significant mental anguish, with many farmers considering exiting the sector altogether; and, over 400 families are involved in the industry, which are struggling to afford the daily costs associated with running their businesses, according to the forum.
The Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum is urging retailers to recognise the plight of the sector and to help share the burden.
"The escalating costs for pig farmers are simply unsustainable. We urge retailers to support the sector and pass on more of the costs.
"This may manifest itself in increased prices for consumers, however it is essential to protect the sector and food security.”