Recession and rationalisation buzzwords for Strak Recession in all the major economies does not necessarily imply a calamitous drop in global meat sales revenue, as consumers in the biggest markets tend to trade down to cheaper cuts rather than abandon the category when cash is tight. But Cambridge based pigmeat sector analyst Dr John Strak reckons the indirect effects of gdp growth slowing or turning negative could prove at least as significant as the impact on demand. "My prediction for 2002 is that recession and rationalisation will be the buzz words," Strak writes in the latest The Whole Hog newsletter. Currency weakness in Asia, caused mainly by depreciation of the Japanese yen, will certainly affect EU pork exporters; and it is almost possible to believe Strak's suggestion of the Argentinian peso devaluation stimulating more pigmeat output from that corner of South America. However, the most intriguing developments are closer to home. Brussels is challenging the Dutch pig slaughtering industry's rationalisation, suspecting the abattoirs are behaving as a state subsidised cartel, and the merger of Danish Crown and Steff-Houlberg is provoking resentment in Copenhagen. Murmurs of discontent can even be heard in Britain, some producers here uneasy following Grampian's purchase of Malton and nervous of Glanbia's intentions. However the Dutch, Danish and UK developments have much to do with environmental and animal welfare pressures, and with the traditional but recently distorted pig production cycle. And the message for retailers? Fewer, bigger suppliers will be trying harder to match the negotiating muscle of the multiples. {{MEAT }}