Further tightening of Britainís already squeezed home produced pork market looked possible as The Grocer went to press, following official confirmation of classical swine fever (CSF) on farms in three major pig producing counties. The disease poses no threat to consumers, but previous outbreaks on the continent have proved it can devastate pig industries and disrupt markets severely. Britainís first case of CSF since 1986 was confirmed on Tuesday after MAFF vets were called to a unit in Suffolk. On Wednesday two other outbreaks were officially reported, in Essex and Norfolk. The threat of disturbance to processors' and retailers' businesses arises because under UK and EU law, pig movement and surveillance restrictions must be imposed, and culling is compulsory. Recent turmoil in the British market, with a sharp downturn in pig supply following a price collapse, was due partly to a major epidemic of CSF in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany in 1997. Emergency slaughterings to control those outbreaks created a temporary supply squeeze and an artificial price boom throughout the EU. This reversed a market downtrend caused by softening of demand for pork as consumers regained confidence in beef after the BSE crisis, but led to over-expansion in the pig industry and the price shakeout of 1998-99. {{MEAT }}

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