Ibérico Ham Gains Popularity in Chinese Markets

Chinese consumers concerned with food safety and quality have appreciation for Spanish process
The unique texture and taste of Ibérico ham makes it sought after worldwide.

The unique texture and taste of Ibérico ham makes it sought after worldwide.

Spain’s famous Ibérico ham comes with a hefty price tag, as a single leg can easily cost over $500. However, the process involved in producing these hams and their unique taste justifies the costs for those who enjoy this delicacy.

“The way these pigs of Spain’s Ibérico breed are fed and raised here is a far cry from how most meats are produced almost anywhere, making the cured ham a delicacy prized for its unique texture and taste, which is enhanced by the sweet and nutty flavor of the acorns the pigs eat,” said in The New York Times.

Ibérico ham, which is sought after worldwide, has gained popularity among Chinese consumers who are concerned with the safety, health and quality of their meats. An earlier incident this year resulted in the arrest of over 110 people accused of trafficking pork from diseased pigs.

“This ham is as natural as food can get — no added heavy metals, preservatives or colorings — and it comes from an animal that has built up muscle by eating the best food and exercising a lot in beautiful surroundings,” said José Gómez, the owner of Joselito, a top brand of ham.

As a result of this increased interest in Spanish ham, China has become the second-largest importer of fresh pork from Spain, second to France. Bernardino Rodríguez, general director of Cinco Jotas, a top brand of Ibérico ham, says, “We generally think that our culture is closer to that of America, but when it comes to ham, Chinese gastronomy is really in tune with ours. I can’t think of anybody more capable of distinguishing between different qualities of ham than the Chinese.” 

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This increased Chinese interest in Spanish ham has some concerned that their methods will be replicated in order for the Chinese to produce their own ham. To this, farmer Domínguez Lorenzo says, “I make everything right for these pigs, and if that work is recognized on the other side of the world, that’s just fine.”