Waves Pacific in Hong Kong is ordering again. More Mangalitsa will go to Hong Kong.
It is a big order. Seeing the order reminds me that it has been a lot harder to develop the USA market for this stuff compared to the Hong Kong market.
The new order got me thinking about Berkshire pork.
Berkshire pigs taste better than the other meat-type pigs. You can see that in these results - the Berkshire pork groups closely with the GOS and Basque pigs, which taste somewhat better than average pigs.*
Currently, our Mangalitsa regularly goes to:
- Michelin-starred and other high-end estaurants in NYC via Debragga and Spitler.
- The company making the USA's best hams, Johnston County Hams.
- A one-stop-shop purveyor of mushrooms, salmon and other delicacies to the USA's best restaurants - Foods in Season.
- A really savvy high-end restaurant group - the Besh Restaurant Group.
Historically, most of the USA's Berkshire pork goes to Asia. Asians are willing to pay more for it - and that willingness to pay more includes the cost of shipping the stuff across the Pacific.
That last bit is really something: Asians are willing to pay international freight to get slightly better-than-average pork.
It costs just as much to ship a pound of Berkshire pork to Asia as Mangalitsa pork. Hence, for marginally more money, they can get something that tastes incredible.
I knew in 2007 that the USA exported a lot of Berkshire pork to Asia. What I didn't know until tonight is that historically, most of the USA's Berkshire pork goes to Asia (PDF or Google DOCS HTML).
If the Mangalitsa market develops like the Berkshire pork market, we should expect most of the Mangalitsa produced in the USA to go to Asia, especially if incomes rise in Asia.
I was talking with a Mangalitsa producer today, Shane Petersen of Suisun Valley Farms. Shane mostly sells pigs to the Bay Area's most-respected restaurants - The French Laundry, One Market and Perbacco. He said that his private customers are 90% Asian. Even if it isn't quite 90%, that's very telling. Other Mangalitsa customers report a similar skew.
Exporting to Asia is where the low-hanging fruit is. I knew it would be important in 2007. It is neat to be shown correct four years later.
I think it is great that Asian customers are going to help preserve the Swallow-belly Mangalitsa breed. Even though Slow Food USA and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy aren't interested in devoting resources to conserve the Swallow-Belly Mangalitsa breed, as long as we've got customers, it will happen due to private enterprise.
Hungarians should thank me for helping to safeguard one of their national pig breeds!
* Of course, lard-type breeds beat the meat-type breeds (e.g. Berkshire) on organoleptic measures. The extreme lard-type Mangalitsa beat all the others on all organoleptic measures.