Dutch officials and pigmeat industry representatives agreed protocols for tightly limited resumption of exports on March 30. Accordingly small quantities of bacon were expected to arrive in Britain from the Netherlands as The Grocer went to press. But traders here were being advised to treat any supply forecasts with extreme caution. As of midweek the Dutch slaughtering industry was still shut, with no reliable guidance available as to when livestock movement and killing would be permitted. Optimists in the Netherlands said FMD had been found only in sheep and cattle, and most of the cases were within a very small area. With the authorities under pressure to ease livestock movement restrictions for animal welfare reasons, hopes rising of geographical containment, and the plants even in restricted areas capable of taking in raw material from elsewhere, it seemed reasonable to forecast a modest supply could be rebuilt within a few weeks. On the other hand, earlier confident predictions of killing plants reopening in early April had been proved wrong. Meanwhile, in the Danish trade it also became apparent supply and price prospects were hazier than had been expected. After a Japanese delegation flew home at the weekend having inspected production facilities and preparing to rule on a Danish request for exemption from Tokyo's ban on most meat imports from the EU, it was rumoured in Copenhagen that an answer might not be given for weeks, rather than within days as at first hoped. {{M/E MEAT }}

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