The Christmas gammon trade faces some challenges. The Danish prices announced for the beginning of November are posting an 8p/lb increase on horseshoes and 6p/lb on shankless gammons. With British clean pig slaughterings now running at 220,000 for the week ended October 14 ­ 12% down on last year's figure ­ traders are not holding out much hope of being able to find many British legs for curing. Dutch legs are generally far heavier than the UK trade wants ­ and already have buyers in Italy for making authentic Parma ham. It is unlikely that legs will be found anywhere else in quantity: France and Ireland may have a few to spare, but not thousands. "The market would have taken a 12p rise," commented one trader in Danish gammons. There is more than a strong chance of another rise before Christmas ­ it is almost a certainty. By staging rises in this way, the Danes may make more out of the increasingly late Christmas seasons which the UK has seen in recent years. But by showing restraint in November, the Danish industry could equally lose out ­ there will be few takers for gammons between Christmas and Easter. {{PROVISIONS }}

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