Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Winning butcher decries sham meat

If butcher John Bartlett was a Melbourne Cup horse he’d be at a short price when the markets are released.

CATHY WALKER November 12, 2013 8:06am

Australian farmers are battling huge imports of pork

If butcher John Bartlett was a Melbourne Cup horse he’d be at a short price when the markets are released.

Mr Bartlett’s Wattle City Meats at Maryborough has won a first prize for the second successive year in the Australian PorkMark Ham Awards for Excellence, announced on Monday as part of Australian Pork Week.

He said being awarded 100 out of 100 by one judge — German fleischmeister (master butcher) Horst Schurger — was a thrill.

The awards are open to all butchers and smallgoods processors that make their ham from Australian-grown pork, and this year attracted 146 entries.

‘‘It’s nice to be recognised,’’ Mr Bartlett said.

‘‘We try to produce consistent quality and I guess it’s paying off.’’

Wattle City Meats is a shop-front butcher in the central Victorian town, but punches above its weight, this year taking second in Australia for bone-in-leg ham and winning the Victorian category with ham cured from locally-grown pork. It also took second in Victoria for boneless leg ham behind Bertocci Smallgoods.

Mr Bartlett said after the win last year he was deluged with inquiry from interstate including Sydney restaurants, but had struggled to find a regular supply network for his ham products, conceding he was busy being a butcher. He said he would love to find a distributor to send his products further afield.

What sets artisan ham apart is what is not in it, Mr Bartlett said.

‘‘Read the label on some products and it says ‘meat including pork’ — that’s got to be a bit of a worry.’’

A bigger worry is the amount of pork imported to Australia: $10million worth a week or 52000 pigs.

Australian ham accounts for about 35 per cent of the total domestic ham market. Australian Pork Ltd has introduced the PorkMark, a square pink label that shows when ham (or smallgoods) is made from Australian pork.

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