“The Australian pork industry has faced many challenges in recent years, crippling grain prices, wide spread drought and most damaging of all, huge volumes of imported frozen pork.” Andrew Spencer stated at last year’s awards for excellence and confirmed that “in fact, there’s over ten million dollars worth of pork imports arriving by boat in Australia EVERY WEEK.”
Did YOU know that 80% of all the ham sold in Australia is made with imported frozen pork? I didn’t until as late as last year when the inaugral ham week was launched. When I first found out about this I was quite frankly shocked. You see a ham can still be classified as made in Australia if it’s made from imported frozen pork. There are lots of reasons why I believe it’s important to insist on Australian ham made from Australian pork, not the least of which is supporting our local farmers, but there are many more including the known quality of our farming practices and food security (just to roll a couple of the tip of my tongue).
This week 4th – 11th July 2011 is the second annual Australian Ham Week. And while it’s great that this week celebrates our local produce and premium smallgoods producers, I personally think that buying Australian ham made exclusively from Australian pork is something we need to put front of mind 52 weeks of the year.
The square, pink Australian PorkMark is a no-ifs-no-buts guarantee of Australian origin and what is in the packet is 100 per cent Australian home grown and manufactured ham.
To learn even more, a couple of weeks back I popped along to Ryde TAFE to meet the judges for this years awards of excellence: Fleischmiester Horst Schurger from CBS Foodtech, and Chefs and commercial cookery teachers Paul McDonald and Simon Bestley from Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE.
The judging is not only a thorough process, but affords our Australian butchers and smallgood producers the opportunity to receive valuable but inexpensive feedback from some of the best in the industry.
At last year’s awards, Martin Carr of Australian Pork let us in on some entertaining (and some not so entertaining) ham facts!
“Australians spend $572 million dollars per year on ham. That’s $26 for every man woman and child. But only $170 odd million or $7 per person, and that’s the upper estimates, of that is made from pork produced by Aussie farmers.
• Out of all smallgoods consumed in Australia, ham accounts for 60%.
• Ham as a protein is a very popular meal choice coming second only to chicken at lunchtime and bacon at breakfast.
• And the origins of the term ham actor derive from when long ago, actors used to use pork fat as their makeup.
But all hams are not created equal. There is also a huge spectrum of ham available in terms of price and production values.
The reason we set out to find Australia’s best ham was to highlight the fact that much of the ham consumed in Australia is not only made from imported pork but that it is generally also highly processed with the use of fillers and additives to extend the product common amongst the large processors.
The entrants for our ham competition were in the main, small companies and butchers who still use age old recipes and methods, and not high tech machinery and processes.
Yet we invited all companies we could find that we knew of who make ham to enter our competition. Funnily enough, it was only these smaller companies that entered.
I suppose you only enter a competition if you think you’ve got a chance of winning don’t you.”
This year’s winners? … drumroll please …
Australia’s Best Ham: Westridge Meats Toowoomba Qld
Traditional Bone In: 1st Barossa Fine Foods Elizabeth West SA, 2nd Grays Modern Meat Mart Toowoomba Qld, 3rd Thompson’s Fresh Food Hobart Tas
Boneless: 1st Westridge Meats Toowoomba Qld, 2nd Schulz Butchers Angaston SA, 3rd Andrew’s Choice Smokehouse Laverton North Vic
NSW State Winners ~ Traditional Bone In: 1st Kaczanowski + Co Sth Strathfield, 2nd Lucas Quality Meats Bronte, 3rd Brown’s Butchery Raymond Terrace
NSW State Winners ~ Boneless: 1st Stapleton Meats Gymea, 2nd Brown’s Butchery Raymond Terrace, 3rd Metcalf Quality Meats Evans Head