Exports of meat are a sensitive issue for retailers and product makers, many of whom privately regard government and MLC efforts to promote overseas sales as an illicit attempt to boost livestock prices by creating new competition for raw material. MLC's new report offers domestic buyers some reassurance. "Beef, sheepmeat and pigmeat exports are forecast to increase over the next 10 years, and indeed this will be necessary in order to maintain a healthy UK meat sector," according to the report. For many years MLC officials have defended their export activities partly by claiming a broader range of outlets is needed to ensure maximum returns from every part of the carcase. Some cuts have little value within the UK but could bring high prices overseas, at least in theory reducing the cost of servicing domestic demand. The prospect of only slow growth in total meat volume sales within the UK against a background of increasingly open international trade broadens the argument. With limited scope for import substitution but a need for output expansion opportunities to provide economies of scale in the livestock sector, export development appeals as a way of securing the supply base for the benefit of domestic users. {{MEAT }}