Trang pork industry on chopping block
Roast pork, the signature delicacy of Trang, has seen sales plummet in line with a decline in quality, a situation local business owners blame on the amended Meat Slaughtering Act.
Following the amendment, the 1992 act now requires that meat slaughtering only be conducted at designated abattoirs.
Previously, roast pork businesses were able to source their meat from a wide variety of outlets. The act allowed slaughtering if it was done for religious purposes, was approved by the governor of a respective province, or was conducted for other special reasons.
Roast pork businesses had received permission to slaughter the pigs themselves and cook them on their premises.
After the removal of those exceptions, roast pork shops have been forced to buy meat from abattoirs, which they insist goes against their traditional practices and compromises quality.
Sampan Yiewhiang, 47, owner of the Ko Sui roast pork business, said the shops had mainly used small pigs weighing around 40kg each for roasting. But the abattoirs only slaughter pigs weighing 70kg or more, which are said to have meat which is less tender.
The abattoirs are not equipped with machines to slaughter small pigs.
He said the pork from the abattoirs is not as fresh since the facilities close in the afternoon, adding shops need pork freshly slaughtered in the evening so it can be marinated and roasted at night and sold in the morning.
“Every regulation we face goes against the wisdom and traditions of roasting pork, which has been passed down for generations,” said Mr Sampan.
He said that he had found himself in trouble as he had no choice but to slaughter the pigs at the shop in defiance of the law. “I have a family to feed,” said Mr Sampan.
He has been contacted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to join food fairs in the provinces. But Mr Sampan said he is unable to source quality meat and will not be able to take part. He stands to lose some 300,000 baht as a result.
Mr Sampan said many other roast pork businesses in Trang have found themselves in the same predicament.
Meanwhile, the Trang Chamber of Commerce is trying to find a solution to what it describes as a “crisis”.
Paradorn Nuchitsiripatra, the chamber deputy chairman, said the law was hurting the province both commercially and culturally, as Trang roast pork is traditional fare. The chamber is looking at ways to help shops survive.