27 July 2001

Beef consumption falls

EUROPEAN beef markets have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, reversing the gradual recovery seen earlier in the year.

Presenting the latest position to farm ministers meeting in Brussels this week, farm commissioner Franz Fischler said that EU consumption in the past month was 10% down on last autumns levels, before BSE first emerged in Germany and Spain.

That compared with an 8.8% shortfall at the beginning of June.

The explanation was the appearance earlier this month of the first case of BSE in Greece, which had led to a 50% collapse in consumption.

As a consequence, prices have also dipped. Commission figures put cow beef values at 28% below pre-crisis levels, compared with the 24% reported to the previous council meeting in June.

Dr Fischler also pointed to the number of export markets that are still closed to EU beef, in particular Egypt, which traditionally takes about 20% of all shipments, but also Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Indonesia. "One can expect a difficult autumn," he said. &#42