Shoppers get your hams early

ALI TOCKER
Last updated 07:53 20/11/2012

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People are being urged to order Christmas ham now to avoid disappointment, especially if they want New Zealand-reared ham.

The pork industry body, NZ Pork, is urging people to order hams now from their local butcher or supermarket for pickup or delivery closer to Christmas Day.

"If people want to be sure about getting a good-quality product, they should act now. If you leave ordering to the week before Christmas and want to get a New Zealand ham, you could be disappointed," chief executive Owen Symmans said,

Factors driving lower supply and higher prices for ham this festive season include reducing pig numbers in New Zealand and overseas.

In the United States and Europe, pig producers were downsizing herds and production because of rising grain prices - an international trend flowing from droughts and price speculation.

Domestically, pig numbers were reducing as people moved out of the industry, Symmans said.

This was a result of stricter animal welfare standards coming in, pig farmers retiring and the flow-on effects of higher global grain prices.

"As an industry, we are committed to meeting the new animal welfare standards but some people have decided, with the changes, it's time for them to move on."

Pig farmer numbers in New Zealand had dropped about 10 per cent recently from the combined factors, with another 5 per cent decline predicted by NZ Pork over the next 12 months.

NZ Pork is also encouraging Kiwis to buy New Zealand ham, rather than imported.

"Most New Zealand consumers would prefer to eat New Zealand ham. We encourage people to look at the label," Symmans said.

"Many people just assume the ham in their local supermarket or retail outlet is New Zealand-grown, but 45 per cent of pork products - including ham and bacon - come from imported products."

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