The sharp rise in pork prices in recent months in Thailand has triggered the demand for crocodile meat, the price of which has been contained due to the reduction in exports during the covid-19 pandemic.
“Since pork has become more expensive, crocodile meat has become fashionable, more people come to buy it at our farm. We have increased our sales by 70 percent. But we don't know how long it will last,” Wichai Roongtaweechai, owner of a crocodile farm with some 10,000 specimens on the outskirts of Bangkok, tells Efe.
Roongtaweechai explains that he has been raising crocodiles for twenty years mainly for their valuable skin, with which shoes, belts and other luxury items are made , but in recent weeks orders from individuals, meat companies and restaurants have multiplied, looking for an alternative to pork.
Pork, essential in the Thai diet, is around 200 baht (6 dollars or 5.3 euros) per kilo, while crocodile costs a third of that value, despite having risen in the face of the strong increase Of demand.
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“Thailand may have cheaper crocodile meat because the export has fallen due to the pandemic,” explained Yosapong Temsiripong , president of the Thai Crocodile Breeders Association.
Behind the rise in pork, whose price has grown by around 30 percent in the last year, there are, according to the Government, viral diseases that have forced the slaughter of 159,000 specimens between March and October 2021 .
During that period , rumors grew that there was an epidemic of African swine fever that forced the massive slaughter of pigs, something that the Government denied until this month it confirmed the first official case of this disease in a slaughterhouse in the country.
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Crocodile farmers take advantage of this opportunity knowing that it will not last long, despite the nutritional qualities of the meat of these reptiles, with more protein and less fat than pork.
"I think in the future more crocodile meat will be consumed than before this trend, but not as much as right now," says Rongtaweechai.