Shoppers could face a shortage of some meat products over the festive period as labour shortages and rising costs put pressure on the industry.
The shortfall means that some Christmas dinner favourites could be missing from the plate this year.
The warning comes from the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) following a meeting of its executive council.
SAMW president, Alan McNaughton, said meat companies were working under “unprecedented pressure” to ensure supplies of product for the festive season.
“This is always a pressured peak-demand time for businesses but the stress under which companies are working this year is unprecedented,” said Mr McNaughton.
“The combination of our industry’s underlying shortage of skilled workers and the continued disruption to staff availability caused by Covid-19 has pushed many businesses to the edge of their capacity.”
Earlier this year the UK Government introduced short-term visas to help meat companies – in particular those operating in the pig and poultry sector – tackle staffing shortages.
It came as more than 100,000 slaughter-ready pigs faced being culled and destroyed on farms due to a lack of staff in pig abattoirs and processing plants.
Mr McNaughton said there had been no significant easing of labour pressures in the past month.
“The Government’s visa system and language requirements are too restrictive to be of any real help in the urgent staffing position in which member businesses find themselves,” added Mr McNaughton.
He said the sector was also faced with rising costs, as its suppliers were having to pay more for their staff and increased costs were being passed down the supply chain to SAMW member companies.
“This is creating a tidal wave of rising costs across the meat production and supply chain, which will inevitably hit home at some point in the future,” said Mr McNaughton.
“It is lamentable that the UK Government continues to ignore the warning signs.”
He added: “That ministers are still suggesting that businesses need to sort these problems out on their own is not an acceptable position.
“This will ultimately rebound on consumers through reduced product availability and higher prices.”
The UK Government spokesman said: “The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain – which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges and we continue to work closely with industry to ensure producers have access to the labour they need.
“We announced a strictly time limited and temporary visa scheme, allowing up to 5,500 poultry workers and 800 pork butchers to enter the UK to support the supply chain in the run up to Christmas.
“But we also want employers to make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce, and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.”