Retailers should ensure they are selling Bord Bia Quality Assured Irish pigmeat and consumers should support it in their weekly food shop, says IFA president Tim Cullinan.

Cullinan described concerns from farmers about the “volume of imported pigmeat on shelves across the country” at a time when they are experiencing “massive increases” in feed costs.

The IFA president made his comments in anticipation of rising Christmas demand.

Christmas market

The Tipperary farmer said: “In the lead up to Christmas, it’s essential that Quality Assured hams are available.

“Retailers cannot be discounting ham at the time of year when the demand is highest among consumers.”

He warned that any “substantial price increase from retailers” must be “passed back through processors to farmers immediately” to cover the “massive increase” in feed costs.

Costs of production

Cullinan said farmers have experienced increasing costs of production over the past 12 months.

His colleague, IFA pig committee chair Roy Gallie added: “Pig farmers have had a very challenging year, with rising feed costs and reductions in pig prices. Some farmers are reporting a net loss of €45/kg per pig, which is completely unsustainable.”

Gallie claimed that pig farmers, who are home millers of feed and exposed to current markets, are reporting cost increases of over €90/t on this month last year.

He explained that there is “a feed cost increase of 30c/kg deadweight alone” and outlined a number of other areas where costs are also increasing including electricity, gas, oil, labour and transport.

In light of this, he said “huge losses are being taken on farms, with little respite in sight for producers”.

“Farming is a business activity, and pig farmers will not stay in operation unless they can make a profit.”