Hot potato! Brits dream of a traditional Christmas, as new poll finds roasties most essential item on dinner plate

The British public are dreaming of a traditional Christmas, opting for classics such as roast potatoes, farm-reared turkey and gravy over more unusual dinner choices.
What are the most important things? pic: NFU MutualWhat are the most important things? pic: NFU Mutual
What are the most important things? pic: NFU Mutual

The new poll by leading rural insurer NFU Mutual will come as a boost to the nation’s farmers and independent rural businesses providing Christmas fodder for people up and down the country.

Sixty-four percent of people said tradition was the most important factor when planning their Christmas dinner, and a whopping 74% stated roast potatoes were essential to the plate. This was closely followed by gravy (58%), pigs-in-blankets (45%), and farm-reared turkey (37%), with 37% plumping for the humble brussels sprout.

The results suggest the traditional Christmas dinner is sacrosanct, but shockingly, over a third of those surveyed said non-traditional Yorkshire Puddings were essential.

Essential items for your Christmas dinner. Pic: NFU MutualEssential items for your Christmas dinner. Pic: NFU Mutual
Essential items for your Christmas dinner. Pic: NFU Mutual

When it comes to the centrepiece, turkey still rules the roost with 37% saying it is essential to the Christmas dinner, while 14% opted for beef. Four in every hundred say a nutroast is essential while 3% want fish and 2% selected goose.

In addition to tradition, Brits want something easy to cook (31%) and nearly a quarter had their eye on getting good leftovers when planning their Christmas dinner.

More than one in five sought special ingredients while over 20% said good food and wine pairings were essential.

Hannah Binns, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist, said: “British farmers and rural businesses have their own long-standing tradition of providing the nation with high-quality, nutritious, and affordable food, especially at Christmas.

"Our research shows roast potatoes are the most essential item for a Christmas dinner, closely followed by gravy and that festive favourite, pigs in blankets.

Turkey was predictably the most popular centrepiece while Brussels sprouts were voted the most essential vegetable.

"Even though Brits still strive to put on the perfect Christmas roast, a third believed Yorkshire Puddings belonged on the plate, which will no doubt spark debate with traditionalists.

"The good news for British farmers and growers and other rural businesses is that they are perfectly placed to provide people's dream food throughout the festivities and into the new year.”

Emma Mosey, Farm Retail Association Chair, adds: “It’s the busiest time of year for our farm retailers and many host additional events and extended opening hours to increase footfall.

“Customers may be watching their pennies in these difficult times but consumers are more mindful than ever of where there food comes from and supporting local producers and independent retailers – for which we are very grateful.”

CASE STUDY: Patrick Finnegan - Christmas trees in Clogher Valley

For hundreds of Northern Ireland families a trip to Tyrone’s beautiful Clogher Valley to choose a tree is part of their perfect Christmas dream. Families have been coming to Patrick Finnegan’s farm for over 20 years – and many return year after year.

There are now over 25,000 Christmas trees growing on the farm, which Patrick Finnegan, took over the business from his father – also Patrick.

“Every year we’re getting new customers as well as those who have been coming year after year,” he says.

“When my father started growing Christmas trees, we sold them to garden centres and shops. But local people wanted to buy trees direct and the set-up we have today developed from there to a dedicated business which enables people to go out in the fields to choose their tree, and have it cut for them to take home and decorate.

“For many people a real tree is a must have part of their families and they’ll never change.”

For people who haven’t got the time to go out to the farm, an online ordering service is now available with delivery included for delivery on customers’ chosen date.

The Finnegan family also make Christmas wreaths using off cuts from the trees and other winter foliage from around the 70 acre farm and supply kits for customers to make up at home.

As well as the Christmas trees, the farm runs a beef herd and Patrick has introduced a flock of Shropshire ewes – a breed which doesn’t eat tree bark so they graze amongst the growing forest of Christmas trees.

A new tree will be planted to replace every one of the Lodgepole pine, Noble and Nordmann firs trees sold this year. It’s very much a family business with mum, dad and five grown-up children involved. Patrick will be taking his work home with him – there will be three decorated trees in the farm house at Christmas.

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