Ballantine of turkey breast, wrapped in serrano parma ham with pork & apricot stuffing.
Ballantine of turkey breast, wrapped in serrano parma ham with pork & apricot stuffing.

Athens: Pork and Turkey have been the main protagonists in a typical Christmas meal in Greece. But the menu, this year, is changing due to the price hike of main ingredients, local market experts and consumers told Xinhua here on Tuesday.

The debt-ridden country may have exited the bailout era in 2018, but the wounds of prolonged austerity and recession are still here and the average Greek household is trying to make the most on a limited budget. Due to the latest epidemic of the African swine fever, the price of pork has increased by about 18 per cent this year compared to 2018, while the price of turkey rose by about 9 per cent, according to an e-mailed survey conducted by the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

"There are other options. One can easily make up a menu for a decent meal with many other ingredients available at Varvakeios and avoid these two whose prices have risen. We can enjoy a stuffed rooster, chicken or try a rabbit,” said Kleanthis Tsironis, president of Athens' central market "Varvakeios".

Due to the price hikes in key meat ingredients, the traditional Christmas meal for 6-8 persons which includes meat, salads, fruits, cheese, soft drinks, wine and dessert will cost Greek households this year on average 154.57 euros (170.02 U.S. dollars), up 3.68 per cent compared with last year when the average was estimated at 149.09 euros, the ESEE's survey found.

In order to keep the cost as low as possible, some Greeks are dropping the pork and turkey, or buy small quantities, and shift to more economic ingredients.

"It is quite difficult these days, but we will make it. Each year we are buying fewer things. This year it is a bit more difficult, but thanks God for the Christmas bonus," said Dimitris, a client at the market. Dimitris opted mainly for chicken this year. Last year his family had enjoyed lamb.

"There are fewer customers this year. People are struggling. They are taking closer looks at the prices," Nikos, a greengrocer at Varvakeios, was quoted as saying.

The prices of some fruits and vegetables have also increased considerably compared with last year, the survey showed. For example, the prices of tomatoes increased by approximately 13 per cent and oranges by 18 per cent.

"It is not so tough inside the market, but elsewhere, due to over taxation," said Kostas, another customer.

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