Hospitality Business Magazine

Love Actually means lamb for Christmas this year!

Lamb has claimed victory as the preferred main Christmas Day meat of choice, according to a new survey from the meat sector.

More than a third of respondents (34.29%) to the Retail Meat New Zealand annual Christmas survey opted for this classic Kiwi favourite over ham (33.17%). Beef was ranked in third place at 13.34% and chicken (7.97%) prevailed over turkey (7.75%).

The annual survey, now in its sixth year, captured responses from over 3,000 individuals, providing light-hearted insights into what makes up a Kiwi Christmas.

The survey was promoted via social media channels and electronic newsletters of Retail Meat New Zealand, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and NZPork. Entrants were incentivised to enter, with the opportunity to win one of five Blitzen Meat Boxes.

The Christmas feast extends beyond proteins, with an assortment of side dishes. Potatoes (91.03%) and kumara (55.82%) took out the top spots, while broccoli, carrots, and salads also earned their place on Kiwi tables.

When it comes to dessert, pavlova stole the spotlight, loved by a whopping 70.13% of participants. Trifle, strawberries with ice cream, and fruit salad were also up there in adding a sweet touch to the big day.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc Marketing Manager, Katie Ward says the holiday season is a great time of the year for Kiwis to come together and celebrate with family and friends.

“At this festive time, food plays a pivotal role in our celebrations – often being the catalyst to bring us together. A leg of lamb not only offers incredible taste and quality but is also ideal for feeding larger groups. Plus, there are some excellent specials on lamb legs at the moment, so it will pay to shop around for the best deals.”

Participants shared their favourite Christmas movies, with ‘Love Actually’ (28.84%), ‘Home Alone’(22.99%), and ‘Die Hard’ (15.82%) featuring as top picks, proving Kiwis have as diverse tastes in entertainment as they do food.

Lamb pricing costs NZ farmers

However, the popularity of lamb at better than usual prices, has come at a cost to farmers. Lamb prices have dropped to levels not seen for six years, taking more than 20 percent off sheep farmers’ incomes.

Lamb schedules have fallen in recent weeks with some companies now offering just $6.50 a kilo – having been $8.30 two seasons ago, and $7.20 last year.

The drop is being put down to continued soft demand from key markets like China – and an influx of Australian lamb flooding markets.

Manawatū based Baker Ag consultant Gary Massicks said the drop was predicted 6 months ago, but it had been much “harder and faster” than anyone expected.

Normally, prices held up until about March when more lambs came onto the market, he said.

“The situation is scary and farm budgets are in the red, and this is all at a time when farmers have more lambs on the ground and could maybe have hoped to capitalise on that.”

A large number of ewes had twins this season because they went to the ram in top condition, but twin lambs are smaller than a good strong single.

“The flip side is we have more lambs, but doing a couple of numbers with a couple of clients, the more lambs don’t make up for the drop in price. So 20 percent (drop) on income, this one (budget) in front of me, store lambs last year were $110, we’re forecasting less than $90 this season, so you know dropping income 20 to 25 percent you’ve got a lot of red numbers in the budget.”

Asked if there was light in the future, Massicks said there was always hope.

Dairy seemed to be picking up again and sheep and beef often followed the dairy trend, but he said the light, when it came, would not be until next winter and it was “not a very strong light”. There was a lot to get through before next winter, he said.

“It’s gloomy and something many people are talking about, but we’re saying to clients ‘stay in the fight’. Decisions need to be well made so next year’s production isn’t compromised.

“Let’s start thinking about that already, and meanwhile try and sell every lamb we can.”