Bacon traders' best efforts to get a stronger price on the spot market were fended off last week, when buyers walked away from a 3p/lb increase. Demand is as soft as ever and there is so much product on the market it is difficult to hold a price. British bacon and ham output was down for January and February this year, according to MAFF figures. January was 2,300 tonnes down on 1999 at 17,800t ­ 4,500t was cured from imported meat. This proportion is unchanged from the previous year, suggesting British backs are as hard as ever for curers and slicers to procure. As the kill rate drops back from last year's levels, this problem will not go away. {{PROVISIONS }}

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