Pork processor Karro has been accused of “exploitation” and “blackmail” by MLAs at Stormont after it proceeded with a price cut for local pig producers.

The issue stems from limited processing capacity at Karro's Cookstown factory which is leading to a backlog of pigs on local farms.

“All NI farmers are being offered a choice of either continuing to maintain pig supply numbers at current levels or accepting a reduced price per pig of £13.50 to enable Karro to take an increased volume of pigs,” a Karro spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“There is no incremental profit to Karro in this arrangement,” the spokesperson maintained.


However, political representatives from various parties have been vocal in condemning the price cut.

At Stormont’s agriculture committee last week, the SDLP’s Patsy McGlone suggested the predicament that local pig producers found themselves was “bordering on commercial blackmail”.

William Irwin from the DUP added: “They are quite happy to take the pigs if they get them at less money, but they will only pay full price if they get 80% of [a farmer’s] pigs. There is no doubt that it is a form of blackmail.”

The issue was raised again at Stormont on Monday when Traditional Unionist Voice MLA Jim Allister suggested the supply-based price cut was “exploitation of farmers”.

Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots said: “I have not seen a clear demonstration of the justification for that cut in pig price, other than, perhaps, a bit of oversupply.

“Nonetheless, there is considerable demand for the product across the UK and beyond.

“The sooner that that issue is addressed and that cut of £13·50 is reduced, and reduced considerably, the better,” the minister added.