Butcher advises to get in early to order festive hams

Get In Early: Brock White from Sharman's Butchery at Wivenhoe is advising people to get in early for their Christmas hams, with a shortage potentially on the horizon. Picture: Simon Sturzaker.
Get In Early: Brock White from Sharman's Butchery at Wivenhoe is advising people to get in early for their Christmas hams, with a shortage potentially on the horizon. Picture: Simon Sturzaker.

Christmas hams are likely to cost more this year and could be in short supply as the impact of African swine fever overseas drives a global pork shortage.

Wivenhoe butcher Brock White, of Sharman's Butchery, said the Christmas ham orders were coming in earlier than usual as people were keen to secure the popular festive table centrepiece.

"We have seen strong demand for hams and premium pork products for Christmas, and we're taking orders earlier than usual," Mr White said.

"The ham supply is going to be tight and we're already seeing an increase in the price of pork now the pork producers are pinched with the numbers coming through, especially for premium Tasmanian pork.

"As people shore up their hams, we're tipping there is going to be a lack of supply very close to Christmas time, and that's why lots of people are getting in now to place orders as a guarantee."

Half a Christmas ham costs about $85-$90 and for a full one the price is about $160 to $200.

"At this stage we've seen about a five per cent price rise and we're just in negotiations with the pork producers and they are telling us the pricing will lift," Mr White said.

"Our free range pork comes from Scottsdale and we are trying to be proactive and increase our production now to make sure we have enough hams for Christmas."

Tasmanian Island Pork Alliance chairman Allan Broomby said hams had started to get a bit hard to come by.

"In the last week or two the pig numbers are starting to tighten up around the country," he said.

It's the ramification of huge numbers of pigs wiped out in places like China being felt in the domestic market. Due to competition and demand outstripping supply the price of pork and other meat is on the rise.

Mr Broomby said Tasmania had three major pork producers.

"One producer ceased a fortnight ago which has left a hole in the market," Mr Broomby said.

He said pig kill numbers were about 550 a week at the Devonport abattoir and it was now down to about 400 a week, all going into local outlets. Mr Broomby said many outlets he supplied started to put away hams through the year to ensure they had enough for Christmas orders.

"If there's a last-minute rush on it could be a problem," he said.

This story Take a tip from Tasmania, Christmas hams could be in short supply first appeared on The Advocate.