The first real signs of consumers stockpiling meat emerged yesterday as the foot and mouth crisis begins to take hold over most parts of the UK.

Food retailers – including Sir Peter Davis, chief executive of J Sainsbury and Paul Mason, chief operating officer of Asda – met yesterday to discuss supply and sourcing issues as stores attempted to keep enough meat on the shelves. The meeting also included food manufacturing groups and Ben Gill, leader of the National Farmers’ Union.

Food retailers reported significant increases in sales of pork, beef and lamb over the past two days, while a rise in sales of chicken, other poultry and fish sales suggests people are beginning to switch their choice of meat. UK supermarkets are beginning to switch to sourcing meat supplies from Ireland, continental Europe and New Zealand to meet demand for products. Prices of meat and meat products are expected to rise in the short term despite attempts by the retail trade to control the pricing issue.

Yesterday published a feature on foot and mouth. To read it, click here.