EU internal market will have to soak up huge additional volumes European Commission officials say the barriers erected against EU meat by all major buyers because of BSE and FMD have wiped out 94% of beef export business and blocked 73% of third country pigmeat trade. Three of the biggest markets, Russia, Japan and the US, are now out of bounds for most of the major exporters in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Germany. The EU domestic market or its intervention storage system must now absorb extra beef tonnage almost equivalent to the output of the UK beef industry. The story is similar in the pigmeat sector, where EU exports last year totalled slightly more than 1.5 million tonnes. Here the EU internal market will have to soak up additional volume much greater than the UK's annual 1.2 million tonnes pork and bacon consumption. The Russians and Japanese are regarded as likely to at least relax if not completely abandon their controls on shipments from the EU. However the Irish Food Board has warned in a new analysis of the market that "there is unlikely to be any immediate change in the restrictions imposed". However, other market watchers recall the aftermath of the 1996 BSE crisis in the UK. Some formerly significant buyers waited years before resuming purchases of beef from anywhere in the EU, not just from this country. Along with the probability of protracted difficulties for EU beef and pigmeat salesmen in some markets, is the certainty of diminished consumer demand for both meats within Europe. Weaker purchasing and heavier supply diverted from export markets can be reconciled only by lower prices within the European Union, frustrating the aspirations of those who are calling for a system whereby consumers pay higher prices for meat from more "natural" production systems. {{M/E MEAT }}