Plenty of imported pork will be available for UK processors and retailers even if home production remains low and consumers on the continent continue substituting pigmeat for beef in reaction to BSE. Latest available supply data from Germany show pig producers there were almost maintaining output capacity, despite official forecasts of a significant downturn this year, before BSE provoked panic among buyers. Germany's pig industry, the biggest in Europe, had been expected to cut back output as farmers reduced herds after the price collapse of two years ago. However, provisional results from the November livestock census show contraction was negligible. Total pig numbers were less than 1% lower than a year earlier, and there was a small increase in the number of young stock likely to be used for breeding. These figures suggest processors in Germany face a reduction of only 2% in slaughter pig availability later this year. With output stable or rising in several other EU pig industries, notably Denmark's, and signs of structural expansion in the North American hog sectors, the international market appears likely to cope with a BSE induced demand expansion without prices punishing buyers severely. {{MEAT }}

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