Truckers are blaming meat companies for a lot of the financial pressure going on stock transport operators.
A five-yearly survey done for the Road Transport Forum has revealed that North Island stock transport firms are suffering the most in a highly-competitive environment and are losing money.
Forum chief executive Ken Shirley says the tough stance taken by meat companies in trying to trim their transport costs is contributing to that.
He says they need to consider the case for higher freight charges, as more reports come to hand of operators cutting corners as they try to survive.
"Assertions are made that people are being forced to overload, to speed to maintain time schedules, to cut corners with work-time rules - we can't condone any of that," he says.
"It's just totally unacceptable for any operator to start breaching those rules".
Customers need to accept higher freight charges: "It's a non-sustainable business in its current form - there has to be some movement there."
"Meat companies - with their leverage and control - have just squeezed the lemon until there is no juice left and are going to have to have a bit of a re-think," he says.