Resumed Dutch imports give jitters to UK traders Limited shipments of pork and bacon from the Netherlands to British customers were expected to resume on Wednesday after the easing of Dutch restrictions on livestock movement, slaughtering and product distribution due to the FMD crisis. Permission was given for plants in uninfected western and southern regions of the country to restart killing from Tuesday midnight, with shipment of the meat allowed 24 hours later. In addition to this fresh pork, deliveries to Britain were expected to include some bacon held in storage since the export ban was imposed before Easter. Dutch industry sources emphasised volumes would be nowhere near normal, probably less than 50%, and the trade could be halted again if new cases of FMD were found outside the areas where the disease had been contained so far. The prospect of moderate tonnages reaching the British market from the usual biggest external supplier of pigmeat was enough to give traders and domestic producers the jitters, as prices had been wobbling even in the absence of Dutch product. Before the FMD disaster, bacon and ham shipments from the Netherlands had been nearly 50% heavier than a year earlier and more than twice the Danish tonnage (though both countries were sending less pork than in early 2000). This extra product seemed to be needed because British pig slaughterings and pork production were down sharply thanks to herd contraction. However, the disease appears to have hit demand harder than supply in the pigmeat sector. British slaughterings recovered quickly to more than 80% of the "normal" rate after the abattoir shutdown in late February, according to MLC estimates, and MAFF figures showed production of bacon and ham in March down by a relatively modest 8% year-on-year. Although the British factories used about a third more imported raw material than 12 months previously, sentiment in the marketplace has been subdued among sellers of foreign-sourced and domestic pigmeat alike. Trade perked up before Easter, but the feeling is of the domestic industry providing sufficient pigs for the disappointing demand and in danger of providing too many as livestock movement restrictions are relaxed within Britain, putting a questionmark against the prospective price for imports. {{M/E MEAT }}