It has been a good year for TJ Crowe of Crowe’s Farm in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, with orders buoyant compared to 2022.
“Like every year, the ham is half the Christmas dinner.”
Crowe closed down his website to orders last week after the company reached capacity.
“We usually wait [to open the website to orders] until after Halloween and had so many enquiries since the start of October.”
In terms of trends in orders, Crowe has found people just want enough meat for Christmas Day.
“Turkey and ham [sizes] are not as big as they were, but they are still the centrepiece on the day. People are opting more for turkey crowns rather than a full turkey.
“People don’t want a 10kg turkey. Traditionally, people would have bought a whole bird and a whole ham; now they want a boneless half-ham,” he said.
“The joint sizes might have changed, but the tradition remains.”
At Limerick-based Glen Aine Foods, orders for hams this Christmas are “strong”, said general manager Derek Bulman.
For the business behind The Limerick Ham Co brand, the Christmas ham trade is looking like it will match last year.
“Our numbers will pan out the same,” said Bulman.
Similar to others, Glen Aine is seeing a move towards smaller joints of meat at Christmas.
“People are moving away from bone-in product to boneless product, so there is a lot more processing involved.
“People are going for smaller units. It would still be ham, but a smaller unit, maybe half-hams rather than full-hams.”
Smaller hams at Christmas is the major trend, seen in recent years by Pat Whelan, CEO of James Whelan Butchers.
With a network of shops nationwide, Whelan said differences in the Christmas meat trade are hard to identify year-on-year.
However, over a five-to-seven-year period, the popularity of smaller joints is evident, influenced by convenience, smaller households and more diverse communities, said Whelan.
How people cook is also impacting Christmas orders.
Consumers are using their ovens less and smaller appliances, such as air fryers, are on the rise. These appliances suit smaller cuts of meat.
With this in mind, Whelan is developing a Christmas turkey and ham that can be cooked in an air fryer.