The partial lifting of the ban on British pork exports meant the meat industry had something to celebrate at Anuga for the first time in years. Better still, the first export order was signed at the show as part of a stunt that provided a welcome opportunity for some positive PR. The order for boneless pork shoulders was placed with Grampian by Interfleisch, a Swiss company serving the Italian market. Other orders have also been secured since Brussels agreed those counties in Britain that had never had a case of foot and mouth could resume exports. Last year, Britain exported almost 23% of the pork it produced ­ equivalent to some 214,000 tonnes. But that business was halted in the wake of foot and mouth. Shipments from the key areas of Humberside, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk can start again from October 22. But the abattoirs must also be in these counties and there are strict rules governing the use of cutting plants. Despite these tough restrictions, Peter Hardwick of the Meat and Livestock Commission said the easing of the ban had raised spirits among the companies on the British Meat stand. "It has come slightly sooner than we expected," he said. "DEFRA has done an excellent job in pushing our case and there has been lots of support from the European Commission." Hardwick said the next challenge was to get counties where no FMD had been found for 90 days shipping pork again. The other priority was to see a resumption of exports of sheepmeat. "We hope to be back in the sheepmeat business by next March," said Hardwick. "Customers are desperate to buy our sheepmeat. French traders are saying When, when, when' because prices are very high in France. Spaniards are saying the same. All our major customers want us back in the market." l See Meat, p28 {{NEWS }}