Winning Pingelly ham has X Factor

Kate MatthewsCountryman

If you want to celebrate Christmas with WA's best boneless ham, you better get your order in fast.

In July, during Australian Ham Week, Maurice and Sandra Gait, of Pingelly Quality Meats, were judged to have the best boneless ham in the State.

Last year they sold 1.8 tonnes of ham and this year are hoping to sell more than two tonnes.

Using fresh Plantagenet Pork, the Gaits say they have a secret ingredient, dubbed the X Factor, in a recipe they developed.

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"Usually we don't sell many hams until Christmas and only sell a few slices on the machine until the end of the financial year," Mr Gaits said.

"But this year, since we won the award, we have gone from selling 8kg of sliced ham to 70kg plus six to eight legs on the bone every week."

For the last six months, the Gaits have been stockpiling hams for Christmas and are cooking every day to ensure they meet demand.

"It takes us four days to cure each leg of ham," Mrs Gaits said.

With a strong following of local customers, word of the best ham has spread, resulting in travellers stopping in as well as orders coming from Perth, Beverley, Kojonup and farther south.

Australian Pork Ltd national account manager Martin Carr said ham sales in December were at least three times the monthly average.

But Mr Carr said a problem for the Australian pork industry was imports made up about 70 per cent of ham sales.

Every week 2600 tonnes of subsidised, foreign pig meat worth around $10 million arrives on Australian docks from the US, Canada, and Denmark, destined for local ham, bacon and smallgoods makers.

"There are two fail-safe ways of ensuring what you are buying at Christmas time is Australian grown pork," Mr Carr said.

"First, look for the distinctive pink Australian PorkMark and second, if it's ham on the bone it also guarantees it is Australian grown."

There are 318 butchers and smallgoods producers licensed to carry the Australian PorkMark on their Australian-grown pork products.

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