As the festive season draws closer, Australia’s supply of popular Christmas foods is plentiful even with disruptions to the food sector due to the pandemic. Predictions are for record demand this Christmas as international travel restrictions keep Australians at home.
Taking off after the bushfires and continuing during the pandemic, producers hope the buy-local trend will see Australians opt for locally made goods. Australia’s pork industry is confident it can bring home the bacon this Christmas, provided all meatworks continue to operate under COVID-normal conditions. A leg of ham with the bone in can cost as low as $50 and as much as $250 – depending on weight, how the pig was raised (free-range, organic, biodynamic), and how it is brined and smoked.
Australian Pork Limited chief executive officer Margo Andrae said, “Ham and pork are popular Christmas centrepieces, so prices can sometimes increase closer to Christmas.” “It’s best to think ahead and this is our recommendation particularly for hams, which can be bought now and kept fresh while vacuum-wrapped right up until Christmas Day. “You can also put your orders in for any pork products with your local butcher to avoid disappointment.”
The Australian pork industry usually contends with cheaper imports, but the pandemic and bushfires have levelled the playing field, with many Australians supporting local producers. “It’s unfortunate that the majority of ham and bacon in this country is made using imported pork,” Ms Andrae said. “However, we are also anticipating a renewed enthusiasm for Australian consumers to want to choose Australian-grown produce this Christmas.” Tips and guides on selecting cuts and the best ways to cook pork, including recipes, can be found at www.pork.com.au
Pig producer Tim Kingma from Gunpork farm in Victoria said, “If you go for a ham with the bone still in it that means it will usually be Australian.” “The smaller packaged hams are usually imported, so if you are buying a smaller piece and you want it to be Australian then you just need to look at the labelling,” Mr Kingma said. Another trick is to buy a ham from a butcher who does their own smoking, for a more unique tasting meat – different techniques and woodchips can bring out delicious flavours.