Renewed consumer fears of BSE are a subtle reminder of why the pigmeat industry and its markets have become so politically contentious in recent years. Food shoppers' switch away from beef, a demand shift becoming dramatic in late 1995, gave a surprise boost to the pig sector after a severe depression earlier in the decade. But the subsequent collapse of pig prices and the controversy over pork imports were due in part to producers over-expanding and being caught out when beef consumption recovered unexpectedly fast after the 1996 crisis. The latest MLC forecasts show UK pork consumption drifting lower again next year, continued heavy imports and reduced exports not quite offsetting a further 3% decline in home production. Bacon production, imports and consumption will all be just slightly lower in 2001 after significant reductions this year. {{MEAT }}