25 July 1997

Sales bounce back from BSE crisis

BRITISH beef sales have bounced back in recent weeks, with figures for June surging to a two-year high.

Meat and Livestock Comm-ission data show that sales in June this year were 0.6% higher than those in June 1995, before the BSE crisis began, and up 32% on the same month last year.

Sales were boosted by burger chains and schools switchingback to British beef, as wellas increased home consumption.

It is the first time since the governments announcements in Mar 1996, suggesting a possible link between BSE and a new variant of the human brain disease CJD, that beef sales have surpassed 1995levels.

The MLC said the sales figures demonstrated a huge vote of confidence in British beef by consumers.

Sir David Naish, NFU president, said the figures were excellent news for the industry. Beef producers would take comfort from it, particularly at a time when they continued to face harsh financial pressures.

"This news sends a clear message to the European Commission that the only way forward is for the current beef export ban to be lifted as soon as possible. It is clearly a vote of confidence in the quality of our product," he added.