Poultry sales have calmed down after being boosted by the FMD crisis. "We're back to normal levels with no difference between consumption now and a year ago," said one of the leading suppliers on Wednesday. "There was a surge of demand when FMD started. There were tabloid scare stories about meat shortages. But it couldn't last because the shelves were never empty." Consumption increased strongly with BSE in 1996, and further volume gains followed but suppliers resisted commoditisation. Home production has been slipping since 1998, consumption growth being met by increased net imports, and although domestic output might stabilise this year at about 1.5m tonnes the assumption in the marketplace is of no opportunity for further volume gains. {{M/E MEAT }}