Beef consumption in the European Union is again falling, despite signs of an earlier recovery. This depressing message was delivered to this week's agriculture council in Brussels by the EU's agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler. Fischler said consumption was now showing a reduction of around 10% below levels noted just before the latest BSE crisis erupted last October with new cases of the disease in Germany and Spain. While consumption fell throughout the EU, by some 30% on average, it had begun to recover two months ago, when Fischler reported it between 5%-7% below pre-crisis levels. "It appears that prices and consumption are falling again. What we saw (last time) may have been a blip," he said. The occurrence of the first case of BSE in Greece this month might be the reason behind the renewed fall. Greece is a net importer of beef and heightened consumer fears there over the safety of beef had affected other member states that traditionally supply the country with meat. Fischler pointed out that the continued closure of traditional export markets is also depressing overall beef utilisation. {{M/E MEAT }}

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