Friday, February 11, 2011

First Load of Mangalitsa is on its Way to Hong Kong

Photo from Hungarian "mangalica" fesztival.

Our meat is leaving for Hong Kong, as previously mentioned here.

At a certain point, it leaves your hands. We are approaching that moment very soon; a truck will come and take the meat away. Hopefully we've done the paperwork and stamping correctly and the meat will be in Hong Kong in a few days.

This is probably the first time the USA has exported lard-type pork to Asia in the last several decades. If things build from this, we'll look back at this as a historic moment. It amazes me that I'm the guy doing it. I've told the guys in Hong Kong I need to get photos of them with our meat in Hong Kong, just to prove that it has happened.

The Spanish have exported Ibeirco to Asia for a while now. With our export, the USA is starting to compete with Europeans for the Asian market. Our product will have to go head-to-head with Iberico in Hong Kong.

Importing Mangalitsa breeding stock to the new world, selling the first pigs to world-famous restaurants like The French Laundry, building demand in New York at the highest levels for Mangalitsa pork: I really have accomplished a lot.

But international trade is even bigger; it means we've somehow produced something so valuable that it pays to ship it halfway around the world, because other people really want it. If it works, in a few years, there'll be a lot of lard-type pork going from the USA to Asia.

I think it is great that people in Hong Kong have money and want to spend it on the world's best pork. From early on, it has been clear that Mangalitsa is a good fit for the Chinese market; the Chinese market isn't fat-phobic or fixated on beef. From retailing at the farmers' market, I and other Mangalitsa producers have learned that well-off foreign-born Chinese are some of the best Mangalitsa customers; some of them buy week after week, and they really appreciate the fat.

If the Mangalitsa breed thrives in the USA, it will be because international trade allows us to sell off the fatty cuts (bellies, jowls and fatback) to customers who appreciate that stuff, and have the means to pay for it. It is trivial to sell the lean meat from Mangalitsa pigs; what limits a producer is the fatty cuts.

In some sense, the Hungarian "mangalica" producers have it easy; they can sell fatty products like the stuff in the photo at top in their home market. We don't have it that easy - but we do have an excellent trade network with Asia.

I'm hoping this turns into something big. Even if it doesn't, just getting the first load of product off to Asia is a huge step.

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