Spain's livestock industry is quietly becoming an important influence on the UK meat market. Its most obvious role is as a supplier of pork, and recently of some bacon, but there is also an indirect effect on beef availability and prices due to Spanish purchases of store cattle from Ireland. Now comes increasing evidence of Spain playing a major part in the EU sheepmeat sector. Traders in the UK tend to assume British lamb is by far the most important component of total EU sheepmeat production, with France, Italy and perhaps Greece as the main second-tier suppliers. In fact Spain has long been the runner-up. Latest farm census figures show its total flock numbering 24 million head, against nearly 28 million in the UK. However, slaughterings in Spain edged ahead of the UK kill last year, and official forecasts just published in Brussels show the margin increasing to about 2.3 million head in the current year. Spanish production appears likely to become an increasingly significant factor in the EU market, with implications for the UK trade mainly due to its effect on prices in France. {{M/E MEAT }}

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