MAFF statistics from bacon and ham factories point to a substantial long-term drop in the volumes of imported pigmeat cured in the UK. Figures for the calendar year to November 1999 show nearly 42,000t of pigmeat were shipped into the UK for curing, against 46,000t for the same period in 1998 and over 47,000t in 1997. The aggregated totals for the same period show only a small drop from 193,000t in 1998 to 191,300t in 1999.

The unusually large pig supply in 1998 goes a long way to explaining why that year’s January to November figure is higher than last year’s. Many multiples started the new year with nearly empty bacon fixtures. While prices often ease in the wake of the Christmas holiday, with an empty supply chain there is no market logic for this phenomenon.