Will multiples be unwilling or unable to maintain two tier market? From Ireland come warnings of impending trouble in the British mainstream retail beef trade as a result of the continental BSE crisis and its effects on trade flows and official supply control policies. Bord Bía's latest market commentary distinguishes between Irish sales to the retail trade here, where it describes sales as "having held up well", and a wholesale market under pressure from the surge of imports from Germany, as well as the continuing abundance of South American meat. Nevertheless, specific references to soft consumer demand in this country and in Ireland's other major retail market, the Netherlands, imply disturbance is being transmitted across from the wholesale and manufacturing sectors into supermarkets. British based Irish beef traders are privately talking less confidently than a couple of weeks ago. Several have mentioned their fears of multiples proving unwilling or unable to maintain the two-tier market, through which UK multiples primarily sell only British meat in retail, but sometimes a little Irish. The two-tier market effectively helps support the price of some Irish beef as the multiples are prepared to pay a "British" price for it. Prices and commercial tonnages have fallen together in Ireland. Nearly half the Irish cattle kill is already going into the EU-sponsored Purchase For Destruction scheme, and the proportion seems likely to reach two thirds shortly. Bord Bía analysts point out they would expect the Irish kill to be around 35,000 head per week at the moment, but the industry has buyers for only about 12-15,000 head. {{M/E MEAT }}