Red Light Spells Danger

13/12/10 -- In the words of Billy Ocean (and I quote):

"Ooooaahhhhaaah mmmm
eh eh mmmm

(Red light) Red Light
(Spells Danger)"

So there we have it, Mr Ocean was ahead of his time in 1977 when he correctly predicted that Prince William would marry Kate Middleton, Alan Pardew would manage Newcastle United and wheat would go to GBP200/tonne twice in the space of a couple of years.

And as Billy went on to point out at great length:

"(Cos red light) Oh Feel the red light
(Means warning) Oh it's a danger warning
(Can't hold out) Oh I can't hold out
(I'm burning) No no no no no!!!"

That final chorus is a clear reference to the fact that none of the above events will last forever. The only question we need to ask now is which one will be the first to get shot down in flames.

I was dismayed, but not entirely surprised, on a weekend trip to Morrisons to again have to search high and low to find British ham on sale. There were oodles of cheap and sizable Danish hams on offer, but very little British meat.

The Danes, and the Dutch too, it would seem are continuing to offload their stuff onto us at prices that the supermarkets are finding harder to resist than a suspender-clad Julia Bradbury carrying a tray of hot (British) pork pies.

How much longer can our livestock industry survive against a background of soaring feed and fuel prices (with a VAT increase around the corner too) and at best static meat prices?

As Billy reiterates:

"Can't hold out (Can't hold out) Much longer"

Of course, it's not just us that's in trouble. The very reason that all this foreign ham is flooding into the UK in the first place is that the livestock industry on the continent is hurting badly too. Slaughterings are up in the EU and the UK as the cost of production outstrips the price of the end product.

The average cost of pig meat production in the UK is currently 18p per kg higher than the DAPP, according to the BPEX.

Meanwhile pigmeat production in the EU could fall by almost 3 million tonnes over the next three years as producers exit the industry, according to the National Pig Association. Producers on the continent must convert away from stalls to loose-housing in the next two years before an EU-wide ban on stalls is introduced in January 2013.

Take it away Billy:

"Wheat, back to GBP100/tonne before the end of 2012, Ooooaahhhhaaah"