Approximately 100 pig farmers gathered to demonstrate in Tallaght, Co Dublin, on Monday to highlight the current crisis the industry faces, of which Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) pig committee chair Roy Gallie said was "on a fast trajectory to bankruptcy".

Gallie said that the pig industry is in dire plight and has never faced such a severe crisis as the one it faces now.

He looked for "understanding and support" from supermarkets at The Square Town Centre in Tallaght in a bid to secure increased pork prices.

Gallie and his team met with store managers from Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and SuperValu to present their case ahead of a meeting which is set to take place next week with the store CEOs and the IFA.

IFA pig committee chair Roy Gallie. / Finbarr O'Rourke

Gallie said: "In 1986, we got 50p/lb for pigs, that equates to €1.40/kg. Today, 36 years later, we are getting €1.42/kg.

"Inflation has eroded the power of that €1.42/kg by exactly half, so, in effect, we are expecting half the price we got in 1986 to pay for all the costs associated with living in 2022."

'Impossible task'

Gallie said that this is simply an impossible task, considering the prices of barley and wheat, which have risen by 50% in the last year.

"Pig feed is now at historic highs and it constitutes 65% of the cost of growing a pig.

"Wages, insurance, electricity and transport have all escalated enormously in the intervening 35 years."

Gallie added that as pig farmers it is their duty to feed their livestock, but when the price they are paid simply pays for the feed and nothing else, they are on a fast trajectory to bankruptcy.

The IFA also requested that retailers sell Bord Bia Quality Assured pigmeat.

Gallie also claimed that Irish flags on pork packaging can be quite misleading for consumers.

Brian Dowley

Brian Dowley from near Tullow, Co Carlow, is losing roughly €8,000 per week on his 450-sow farm, as the price he is getting for his pork fails to meet costs of feed.

"I just hope to get that message across to retailers.

"The Government are aware of it, but they're doing nothing. At least the retailers might be able to pass us back something from their sales with the hope that the price of pig will increase in the future."

Dowley said that pig farmers need support to get through the next six months or else there will be casualties out of the market.

Sean Brady

Sean is from Killucan, Co Westmeath, and said that his farm is not even breaking even at the moment.

"Irish pork is too cheap and retailers can't keep selling it like that, compared to beef and lamb and other meat products.

"You'd be hoping to get an increase and at the moment, to cover all feed costs, you'd want to be at €1.80/kg or €1.90/kg.

"We're in the business for the long haul and we hope prices will increase fairly shortly or maybe the Government could help us out for a six-month period to get over this rough spell."

People must also be aware of the Irish product with the Bord Bia quality mark on it, Brady added.

Joe Healy

Joe Healy from Glenbrien, Co Wexford, came to the protest in a bid to highlight how pig farmers are selling their pork at 20% below the cost of production.

"This hasn't changed for four to five months now and it is getting worse.

"€2/kg would barely cover us today. We have no business at the moment and if this went on for another four months, that would be the end of it," Healy said.