Current reports of the size of last year's retail market illustrate just how difficult it is to reconcile available industry sources. TN Sofres reported a total retail market of 155,000 tonnes last year (52 weeks ending October 17). But this substantial figure cannot be the whole trading picture by a long measure. Dutch Royal Crest shipped 105,231t in 1999, much of it destined to become back rashers ­ and that is not counting other Dutch product under other branding. Given the TNS estimate for the total rasher market volume is 91,587t, there are some very substantial unreported sectors. Aggregated British bacon and ham production for calendar year 1999 can be expected to top 200,000t, while the Danes suffered a drop in bacon shipments but still exported about 100,000t. With a market volume of 400,000t a year, it is hard to imagine that substantial tonnages are going unsold every week. But it is equally hard to imagine that anyone can claim to have a single authoritative figure for the category. Foodservice and local authority buying are two largely uncharted areas, buying large volumes of rasher bacon and joints. The independent trade is an steady perfomer in the category, too. But given the diversity of outlets for bacon, there are still some large gaps in published data on the sector. And no single current source can account for even half of the market's total tonnage. {{PROVISIONS }}