November 17, 2008


High pork prices may sadden Australia's Christmas festivities


Christmas ham and other pork dishes may be off the menu for struggling families in Australia this year as a pork shortage sends prices higher.


The whole country feels the pinch on pork as costs are increasing weekly and the price spike would continue until Christmas.


Darwin's Quality Meats owner Scott Massie said cheap hams will not be available and pork supply will always be there, but "depends on how much people want to spend."


Families across Australia may have to go for half a ham instead of the full Christmas leg as the economic downturn starts to bite. Farmers are reaping the effects of high grain prices and a strong Australian dollar last year.


On the other hand, a flood of subsidised imported pork from Europe and the US drove prices down to breaking point.


Massie said the imports were "just too cheap - they were destroying the industry."


Australian Pork Limited communications manager Emily Mackintosh said the national pork herd has been cut by tens of thousands as small producers exited the business.


The result is about 40,000 less sows nationwide - and the shortage will drive prices up.


Though he had secured many hams at good prices, Massie said consumers would have to buy more at a higher price - and late orders would pay.

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