Sales of beef have still yet to return to the pre-mad cow crisis levels and yesterday a special mobile information unit arrived in Palma as part of its national “eat beef road show” tour. Backed by butchers' associations across Spain and the European Union, which has covered 50 per cent of the 990.963'18 euro budget, the bus is touring Spain, promoting beef and easing consumer concerns. Yesterday the bus was at the Pedro Garau market, today it will move on to the Olivar market and tomorrow it will be in Santa Catalina. The beef campaign is aimed at 17 million consumers and leaflets are being distributed which explain what happens to the meat from the slaughter house to the table, the quality controls involved and how all cuts of meat are identified and documented. Inside the campaign bus, a video will be shown of the meat production process and information will also be given out, highlighting the important role meat plays in a balanced and healthy diet. The vice-president of Mercapalma and director of Mercasa is behind the beef awareness campaign, Tomás Horche, said yesterday that “beef now boasts the maximum guarantees.” He also explained that during the mad cow crisis, sales of beef fell by 50 per cent in Spain and productivity by 60 per cent while prices fell by 15 per cent. In the Balearics, where the cattle industry accounts for just 20 per cent of beef consumed in the region, 80 per cent of beef has to be imported to meet demand. Mercapalma slaughters 6.000 tonnes a year of local cattle, but Palma city councillor for consumer issues, Lys Riera, said yesterday that far too much beef is imported “while local farmers are striving to make sure that Balearic beef is of the maximum quality.” “People like to eat local products and what is helping is the new labelling system which states where the animal was raised and slaughtered,” the councillor said. Earlier this year the Balearic government launched a campaign to promote autochthonous products, not only for sale in the Balearics, but also for export and, not only do such products come with a Balearic stamp, they also have to meet stringent quality and hygiene controls. A fine example of the competition posed by imported meat was the flood of Welsh lamb into Balearic supermarkets during the Blue Tongue virus scare. Welsh lamb sold so well that Welsh farmers and chambers of commerce have recently launched a European export drive. The beef road show started in Albacete on June 27 and will end in Barcelona on November 16 after having visited 64 cities.


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