Why you're paying more for your Christmas ham this year

Australians are having to fork more for their Christmas hams this year due to a shortage of pork, an industry spokesman says.

The cost of pork has risen thanks to the drought plaguing Australia and a surge in exports after African swine fever decimated pig herds across Europe and Asia, Victorian Farmers Federation's Tim Kingma says.

"There definitely is a shortage of pork around the world. The last two years, the actual hams at Christmas have been fairly cheap," the pig farmer told 3AW radio.

"Because we've had the droughts the costs have been more.

"We've actually lost over 10 per cent more of the industry - peak family farmers have gone out, so there is scope to improve and for those people to come back into the industry."

Australians may have to fork out up to 60 per cent more for their Christmas hams this year due to a shortage of pork. Source: Getty

An Australian Pork spokesperson said on average there has been a 10-12 per cent increase in the price of hams this year, largely driven by drought.

“While African Swine Fever is a threat and putting pressure on global protein prices, Australia is still free from this disease,” the spokesperson said.

“Last year Christmas hams started from around $6 or $7 per kilo, and this year they’re starting from around $8 per kilo.”

What is African swine fever?

African swine fever is an untreatable, infectious virus that affects domestic pigs, warthogs and bush pigs and kills within days. Any infected meat smuggled into Australia could jeopardise the national industry.

It can be spread when pigs eat infected meat products and through direct contact.

Humans cannot be infected but authorities predict the disease will eradicate up to a quarter of the global pig stocks and obliterate Asian piggeries.

There's no vaccine or cure for the disease.

There is estimated to be up to 24 million wild boars across Australia, sparking fears the disease could spread quickly if it gets into the wild.

If a local outbreak occurred, it could cost the Australian pork industry $2 billion.

Pictured are quarantine officials wearing protective gear while they place barricades as a precaution against African swine fever at a pig farm in Paju, South Korea. Source: Getty

Coles, Woolworths and Aldi ham price rises

Coles and ALDI told Yahoo News they have seen increased meat prices due to a number of reasons.

“Recently, we have seen increased meat prices in Australia, due to a number of factors including export demand and international prices, grain pricing, and drought conditions. As a result, the wholesale cost of some meat products have risen,” a Coles spokesperson said.  

“Coles has sought to absorb some of this increased cost in order to continue providing customers value, however the price of some products has been increased to reflect a portion of the higher sourcing costs.”

Coles Development Chef Michael Weldon said the supermarket has the best value hams, starting from just $7.50 per kilogram.

“They are 100 per cent Australian and smoked over Beechwood and available nationally.”

Pictured is Coles' Semi boneless cracking ham starting from $20 per kg.

An ALDI spokesperson said some of their “Christmas hams have increased this year to reflect the current market conditions, this includes the drought and African swine flu.”

Their Berg Deli Australian Half Leg Ham is listed for $8.99 per kg, followed by Specially Selected Triple Smoked Half Leg Ham for $11.99 per kg.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that while “the wholesale cost of our popular Woolworths Bone in Half Leg Ham has gone up”, they’re offering it at the same retail price as last year.

“We know many farmers are doing it tough in the drought and we’re working closely with our suppliers to manage wholesale cost pressures on a case by case basis.

Coles, Woolworths and ALDI have said they've seen an increase in pork prices. Source: Getty

“We also understand household budgets are often stretched around Christmas, and we’re focused on offering the best possible value across our fresh food range,” the spokesperson said.

Woolworths’ is offering Gold Triple Smoked Bone-in-Half leg ham for $13 per kilogram, meaning a 3kg ham could cost $39. The cheapest option is Woolworths Half Leg Ham Smoked Leg Ham for $9 a kilogram, equalling $54 for a 6kg leg.

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