Australian produced Christmas feasts are looking promising this year with the return of Coffin Bay Oysters, low lobster prices, avocados galore, and pork going ham. Increased consumer awareness of locally produced Christmas food is helping to increase the market for Australian growers.
Oysters Back on The Menu for Season Celebrations
After a recent contamination scare world-famous Coffin Bay Oysters are now back on Christmas menus. The restrictions have cost the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars but are being lifted just in time.
Oyster farmers in the Coffin Bay growing area are being progressively opened for harvesting again, with the first oysters from the area able to reach customers this week.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the State Government has been working closely with the oyster industry to lift restrictions as soon as possible.
“We are confident Coffin Bay oyster growers have done everything possible to give confidence to consumers about the safety of their product and we can start seeing South Australia’s famous oysters back on family dining tables in time for Christmas,” Minister Basham said.
SA Health has varied three emergency orders to allow Angel Seafood Infrastructure Pty Ltd, Pristine Oyster Farm, and Southern Eyre Seafood to harvest and sell oysters from the Point Longnose Aquaculture Zone for their licensed areas only.
Lobster Industry Focuses on Australian Christmas Feasts
The seafood sector is the latest casualty of increasing trade tensions with China after several deliveries of live lobsters were held up for quarantine inspections. In October this year, lobster shipments were halted on the tarmac of Chinese airports with no notice and little explanation from trading partners or government officials.
South Australian company Ferguson Group usually exports around 350 tonnes of live lobsters to China each year, but constant bureaucratic hold-ups have made trading with Chinese buyers “too risky” according to the company’s Managing Director.
For the Ferguson Group, sights now shift to the domestic market with hopes that low prices at Christmas will help to maintain profitability in the wake of the loss of its Chinese buyers. CEO of Seafood Industry Australia, Veronica Papacosta says that China’s loss is our gain at Christmas time.
“As we saw last year, Australian rock lobsters are again a great buy. People can expect to find small, whole western rock lobsters starting at the $20-25 price point, moving up to $30-32 for a 400-500g lobster.”
“With international and domestic travel restrictions still in place, we’re seeing more people in Australia for Christmas than we have previously,” she says. “This means there’s an increased number of people wanting to eat seafood at Christmas. Coupled with labour shortages across all sectors of agriculture, this means we could see supply stretched.”
Aussie Avocados Versatility Perfect for Australian Produced Christmas Feasts
The oversupply of avocados and shortage of pickers this year has led to the fruit selling for less that the cost of production.
Growers and industry bodies have been calling for Australians to increase their avocado consumption, highlighting the fantastic value for consumers that has resulted from the oversupply.
“Australian avocados are in abundant supply this year and great value.”
“This year’s Hass crop is of excellent quality, and at this time of the year Australian Hass avocados are coming from the Western Australian and Tristate growing regions,” Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas said.
SA Riverland based Sarah Tucker-Boehm is highlighting the versatility of the fruit, publishing a variety of recipes featuring avocados on her social media profiles.
Sadly, spring storms have caused damage to several key horticulture regions. Queensland watermelon growers reported losses of up to 85% making this Christmas favourite significantly more expensive this year. Storms and ongoing labour shortages are also likely to increase the price of cherries, while stone fruit will also be less abundant than usual.
AusVeg’s Shaun Lindhe said that it was difficult to predict how worker shortages would impact produce availability and price into 2022.
“Growing conditions have generally been good in most vegetable growing areas, so ensuring there are enough workers to harvest vegetables and supply customers with high-quality produce is the industry’s top priority,” he said.
Get Some Christmas Pork on Your Fork
Pork production levels are running above average this year, assuring consumers of excellent prices on Christmas hams. Having competed with cheaper imports in previous years, Australian pork is one sector enjoying a resurgence among buyers looking for locally-grown produce.
“It’s unfortunate that the majority of ham and bacon in this country is made using imported pork,” said Margo Andrae, CEO of Australian Pork.
“However, we are also anticipating a renewed enthusiasm for Australian consumers to want to choose Australian-grown produce this Christmas.”
Australian Pork has stepped in and done the legwork this year to help consumers pick the perfect Aussie Christmas ham. Judging hams across Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, Costco, and IGA to help shoppers.
Annually, Australian retail Christmas food sales are valued at just under $30 billion. This year is shaping up to be an excellent one for the industry and for consumers!