What You Need To Know About The Christmas 2021 Ham Shortage

While the stocking might be hung by the chimney with care, the Christmas 2021 ham shortage could have Santa leaving the table a little less satisfied this holiday season. For some homes, ham is the centerpiece of holiday meal traditions. Although many people were hoping for a merry and festive food celebration, it seems that another version of the Grinch has stolen a roast beast from the platter.

From Australia to Jamaica to even Main Street U.S.A., the holiday ham might be off the table for this year's celebration. According to a September 2021 ABC Rural report, Australian lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have caused disruptions in the supply chain. Speaking with the outlet, Ritchie's IGA chief executive officer Fred Harrison said if that workplace restrictions weren't lifted "by mid-November," that would potentially cause supply for Christmas ham demand to fall short — and even if the product even was readily available, customers would almost definitely pay more for it. 

A similar ham issue is happening in Jamaica. According to Jamaica Observer, the combination of import restrictions as well as higher costs for domestic production looks to have caused a ham shortage. While improvements have been seen over the past several months, the pork bounty isn't quite as robust this year. Even though Christmas Ham might be a traditional Jamaican holiday food, it might be the year to serve that Curried Goat with a glass of sorrel.

The US has ham shortage concerns, too

This holiday season, shoppers may not feel so holly or jolly when strolling through the grocery store. From missing ingredients for holiday desserts to higher costs, it seems that Scrooge might be overseeing the shopping experience. While it might seem like a phrase used too often, work shortages and supply chain concerns continue to disrupt holiday traditions, like the Christmas ham, and consumers are the ones feeling the effects. According to Wnct.com, increased labor costs are passed down through consumer prices. Add to that packaging and shipping issues, NBC Nebraska 2 reported that sometimes the orders just never get fulfilled.

While logistics issues continue to be a stumbling block, a recent ham recall emptied even more shelves. As reported by AARP, "230,000 pounds of pork to over 2 million pounds" of "fully cooked ham and pepperoni products," including "boneless hams and semi-boneless spiral-sliced hams," are under a recall for bacterium concerns. These items were sold as stores including Whole Foods, Albertsons-owned chains and other locations.

In some ways, both the recall and the pandemic-induced market conditions have created almost a perfect storm for the holiday table. While some people might be willing to drive over the river and through the woods for a holiday ham, the store may not have it stocked, even if consumers are willing to pay for it. Although some celebrations might fear the Clark Griswold turkey carving disaster, that option might have to replace the Christmas ham tradition.