Changes in the pattern of consumer demand for meat in the EU over the medium to long term are likely to be of most benefit to poultry, according to Brussels' latest annual review of agricultural markets. Pigmeat suppliers in at least some member states are of course enjoying unexpectedly high returns at the moment due to BSE while oversupply is troublesome in parts of the poultry market. Moreover the Commission suggests a bright future for the pig sector, with EU consumption of pork and pork based products forecast to increase from this year's 16.7m tonnes to 17.7m by 2008. Yet the review reckons the pigmeat demand growth will be "clearly less than poultry". The implications for the UK market, however, are hard to assess because the industry in this country has achieved a bigger share of total meat sales than typical in the rest of the EU. Poultry already accounts for about 40% of the market by volume here and some suppliers admit the demand maturity which caused whole bird retail sales growth to peter out several years ago is now becoming visible in the portion and added value product categories as well. On the other hand the success of poultry marketing in the UK seems to have been associated with the disappointing performance of pork, by EU standards, and the likely stagnation of British pig production might help the poultry sector keep this advantage. {{M/E MEAT }}

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