Brussels forecasts point to steady or slightly declining supply from EU industry Statisticians at the European Commission have published their latest cattle and beef supply forecasts against a background of increasing turbulence in the market following renewed BSE scares, particularly in France and the UK. Their predictions are in line with industry expectations, based on previously announced cattle census data, indicating a very modest fall in EU production next year. As it is now clear consumption in France has been hit hard by the BSE publicity of the past fortnight, the forecast of lower supply from the EU industry could offer a necessary correction limiting the scope for price declines. However, this potential symmetry is only at an overall EU level. France is alone among major producing states in having built up cattle numbers this year, according to the June census results, implying other suppliers to the French market will continue to face difficulties there and will have to count on stronger demand from other outlets. Destabilising pressures are also possible from other directions, with parts of the world market looking wobbly and raising questions about supply and price prospects in the imported beef sector within the EU along with doubts over Irish and continental exporters' opportunities in third countries. Nevertheless, the message from Brussels is total EU output the same this year as last, with a one per cent decline in 2001, and this contraction will be occurring at a time when there should be no stocks in intervention stores. It is also worth noting MLC analysts reckon their colleagues at the Commission have underestimated the market tightness in one respect: Brussels puts UK production up 8% this year, while the MLC expects a rise of only 4%. {{MEAT }}