8 November 1996

Dutch profit thrives on

BSE effect

DUTCH livestock producers have profited from the BSE crisis to the tune of £140m, according to a study by economists at Wagen-ingen Agricultural University.

Commissioned by fws sister magazine, Boerderij, the research-ers used computer models to see how beef, veal, pig and poultry prices would have developed this year without BSE. They then compared this with what actually happened, and so determined the "BSE effect". This was as follows:

&#8226 Beef – a loss of £29m.

&#8226 Veal – a gain of £5m.

&#8226 Poultry – a gain of £6m.

&#8226 Pork – a gain of £141m.

The net effect was a gain of £123m, with another £17m coming to the industry between March and July as compensation. This clearly reflects the bias in the Dutch livestock sector towards white meat.

"Negative publicity stemming from the BSE affair caused many consumers to switch from beef to other meats, leading to a price rise for chicken and a veritable explosion in pork prices," say the researchers. Veal prices also benefited from the destruction of 60,000 calves and a frozen storage policy.

But the gains to the Dutch meat trade have now started to diminish, Prof Aalt Dykhuizen told fw, with pig prices in particular falling since August. But poultry values remain firm and beef prices have recovered only marginally. How long it takes for the industry to "normalise" largely depends on what further publicity the BSE/CJD story gets in the national media, he said.n