The Guardian piece is based on two sources. 'Turkey man of the year' Paul Kelly, the boss of Kelly Turkey Farms in Essex, said his 'contacts in the City' had told him that speculators were driving up the cost of wheat, which was 'not good for famers or consumers' and 'fundamentally wrong and obscene'. And the World Development Movement, a UK anti-poverty group, has also laid the blame for our higher food bills squarely at the door of Square Mile speculators. 'Again we bear the brunt of bankers' greed,' they complained today.
As sources for a detailed analysis of the intricacies of the commodities markets go, you might argue that neither of these two is exactly bullet-proof. But on the face of it, given that grain harvests have been reasonably good this year, it's a bit hard to see why feed prices have climbed to such an extent (from £95/tonne to £177/tonne, according to Kelly). And obviously speculators can profit from sudden spikes in commodity prices. Although it's worth remembering that they can profit from commodity price falls, too...
Speaking of turkeys, no fewer than 50,000 kilos-worth of our poor feathered friends bit the dust yesterday, as Tesco put on what it's claiming was the UK's biggest ever staff Christmas lunch. Some 230,000 staff tucked in to the festive feast over five sittings over a 24-hour period. As well as all that turkey, between them they also apparently managed to put away nearly 24,000kg of spuds, 5,000 pints of gravy, and 230,000 pigs-in-blankets. Gives us indigestion just thinking about it.
As usual, staff at Tesco HQ in Cheshunt got a special treat: their meal was dished up by the company's senior staff. Somehow, we suspect outgoing chief exec Sir Terry Leahy won't be desperately upset that next year he won't have the chance to don a pinny and dole out roasties to several hundred raucous underlings.