Northern Ireland's farming minister Edwin Poots has met with representatives from the agri-food industry to discuss supply chain pressures and challenges caused by rises in input costs and the cost of living crisis.
Mr Poots previously described the pressures on the NI agri-food sector, including rising feed and fertiliser costs, labour supply problems, energy price hikes and supply chain disruption, as the ‘perfect storm’.
During a series of visits the minister met with representatives of major agri-food firms, including Karro Foods in Cookstown, Derry Bros in Loughgall, Finlay Foods in Moira and Grahams Bakery in Dromore, Co Down.
Mr Poots addressed the ongoing issues and discussed potential solutions to the problems faced.
The Department of Agriculture (DAERA) minister said he was 'hugely concerned' with rising food and energy prices.
"Primary producers are facing unprecedented rises in input costs of energy, feed and fertiliser which simply cannot continue to be absorbed by farm businesses," Mr Poots said.
"Businesses in all sectors along the supply chain are facing challenges due to significant increases in energy prices and fuel costs and labour shortages in the agri-food sector continues to pose challenges, especially in the pork sector."
He warned that this would continue to result in increased costs for both industry and consumers.
Alongside these issues, Mr Poots also raised concerns about the war in Ukraine, a country which has a crucial role to place in global agri-food markets.
The minister continued: “We need to find options to help to these sectors across the UK as a whole and be ready to act if the position does not improve in the coming months.
"I will continue to engage with my UK ministerial counterparts and have instructed my officials to work together across devolved administrations to draw up contingency options for assistance for the beef, sheep and pig sectors, with the latter of most immediate priority."
Mr Poots added: “It is my aim to protect Northern Ireland’s food supplies, making sure that everyone can access safe quality food at prices we can afford.
"My Department remains committed to developing and implementing processes which aim to address issues affecting the supply of food to Northern Ireland.”