CyberTech Rambler

December 19, 2007

Global food market

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:14 am
Tags: , , , ,

This is kinda of topic, but it is interesting to see how food move around the world to satisfy our appetite for them. In Malaysia, for example, we have apples and oranges all year round. Being a tropical country, of course those food are shipped in. To support this, for years importers had been sourcing them from both north and south hemisphere. Talk to the market trader and he probably have better grasp of the seasonality of fruits from Europe and South American than most of the natives.

Now lets go for the more unexpected ones: We used to have Thai chicken killed in Thailand, shipped to Netherland for processing, then sold in UK. The main reason is cost. Cost of Thai chicken in UK, despite the distance travelled, is cheaper than home-reared one. Why process in Netherland? I think it have to do with the Common Agricultural Policy as it is possible that the fact that it is processed in the EU means you are importing “raw material” rather then food items which are more heavily taxed. In fact, that inspired me to say that the best way to get the most out of chicken is not to genetically engineer it to have bigger breast (for Europe) or have two extra legs (for Asia), but to ship the legs from Europe to Asia, and breast the other direction. This might happen if not for the bird flu.

During the first bird flu scare in UK, it emerged that the company involved actually have the chickens conceived in UK, reared in Hungary, I am not sure where it is slaughtered, then sold in UK.  Wow, the chickens actually travelled further in their short live then most people in the world.

In manufacturing, things like this is of course not uncommon. Your computer contains parts from all over the world. However, it is still surprising to see this happening with food.

Of course I saved the best for last.  It emerged that scampi sold in UK is caught in UK but shelled in Thailand. My God! The scampi I eat travel the same journey I do yearly.


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