28 March 1997

Meat sales OK despite BSE

DESPITE the BSE crisis, total meat sales only dropped slightly in 1996, latest figures from the Meat and Livestock Commission suggest.

Estimates based on National Food Survey data show household consumption fell less than 1% to 2.88m tonnes.

But buying patterns changed. Beef and veal consumption, for example, in the last quarter was 15% down on 12 months earlier.

But the drop in mince beef demand led to a rise in sales of lamb and pork mince. And this contributed to whole-year consumption increases of 22% and 3% for lamb and pork, respectively.

"The BSE episode certainly has not been a massive vote of no-confidence in meat," says MLC marketing director Gwyn Howells.

"The figures demonstrate what a fundamental part of the British psyche beef is, and show the special relationship between it and the British consumer. I know of no other product that could have withstood the same barrage of bad publicity." &#42