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New Zealand’s loyalty to lamb has pushed glazed ham out of prime position on dining tables this Christmas, according to Retail Meat New Zealand.

Its Christmas Census of 1300 people has laid bare food preferences for 25 December, including dining times, cooking methods and the planned contents of people’s plates.

Although the quintessential Kiwi Christmas is often touted as a relaxed affair, RMNZ General Manager Pippa Hawkins said there was a lot of pressure on people to put on a good spread – prompting an upsurge in customers at butchers and delis in the five days beforehand.

Behind the counter of Euro Gourmet Meats in Christchurch, head butcher Brian Nieuwenhuize wasn’t surprised to hear that about 34 percent of people polled were choosing lamb as their Christmas meal centrepiece.

It was 1 percent ahead of ham, which was 2018’s clear winner and followed in third place by beef at 13 percent.

Mr Nieuwenhuize, who has been a butcher for four decades, put it down to lamb’s new-found status as a “special occasion” food.

“It’s a premium product now. When I first started butchering you could buy a whole side of lamb for what it costs for a couple of chops now. It’s horrendously expensive. But it’s a really nice meat, especially if you have really good quality lamb,” he said.

Pippa Hawkins said pavlovas will fill the dessert bowls of about 71 percent of people, while trifle, strawberries and ice cream, and fruit salad also proved popular.

She said most people would eat their main meal between 12 – 2pm – and people didn’t tend to leave a lot of space in their bellies for more.

Napping proved a popular post-meal activity for 40 percent of people surveyed – only beaten by present opening at 80 percent and backyard games at 50 percent.

And 58 percent of people estimated they would have enough Christmas meal leftovers for one or two days.


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