British farmers stand to benefit from a growing shortage of veal in Europe, the MLC says.

Export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier said calf meat could fetch 13.90-6.00/kg dw. "The market has been lifted by the problems with poultry, which have encouraged people to eat more veal."

But trade is unlikely to start before Christmas, he said, because it would take time to set up the supply chains. Some also warn of a slow start because livestock farmers and abattoirs are not set up to deal efficiently with high quality calves.

Richard Phelps, MD of Southern Counties Fresh Foods, said prices had to reach £2.40/kg deadweight before it was profitable. "It's going to very difficult for us to get into the market because the Dutch are so specialised and efficient. Also, the perception of UK veal is not good because it is not consistent quality."

Phelps will test market a batch of 20 calves to Italian buyers in February.