Beef exporting is a sensitive issue for major retailers within the UK because there are fears of the confidence boosting effect conflicting with the need to keep a lid on prices. On the one hand a further relaxation by the European Commission of the strict rules limiting the type of beef and the processing facilities would be welcomed by supermarkets as a public vote of confidence in the commodity. But on the other hand retailers would not want stronger competition from exporters in the live cattle and wholesale beef markets. Bob Bansback of the MLC tries to square the circle by arguing all customers would benefit from additional export earnings providing greater financial stability to the beef cattle sector and the processing industry. "We were exporting 20% of our output in 1995 and that 20% was bringing in an excellent return," Bansback said on Tuesday at the SIAL food fair in Paris where he joined traders in maintaining contact with former customers who might eventually resume buying. "It is essential for the health of the industry to secure that return again." However Bansback and the traders acknowledged there would not be very large volumes traded until currency movements again favoured British suppliers. At the moment even the Irish, whose beef is much cheaper than British, are struggling in some of the continental markets. {{MEAT }}