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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Thailand starts selling crocodile meat
Crocodile
Crocodile meat is already popular in Australia
Canned crocodile is hitting the shelves in Thai supermarkets, with the launch marked by a food festival in several stores.

Stewed crocodile meat
Crocodile may provide a healthy alternative to other meats
The canned meat, priced at 200 baht (about 3) for a 250g tin, comes as a stew mixed with Chinese herbs and black mushrooms, considered health-enhancing by many Asians.

Crocodile may provide a new alternative to meat whose consumption has declined in recent years following food scares such as mad cow disease and poultry infections.

Crocodile meat is said to have a higher protein content than pork or chicken meat, with a lower fat content.

Thai consumers will also be able to buy the meat dried, frozen or fresh, as steak, ribs or whole carcasses, under the name Wani-O, or King of Crocodile.

Big business

Crocodile meat is already big business in Australia where the novelty meat took a few years to catch on. But today Australia is one of the biggest crocodile meat markets in the world.

"Crocodiles still hold a scary image for Thais," says Walter Lee, chief executive of Venturetec Marketing, which has gone in partnership with a crocodile-breeding farm near Bangkok.

"It took seven years for Australian consumers to get used to it."

It is hoped crocodile meat, which is said to taste like chicken or pork, will help Thai people overcome their aversion to eating the reptile.

Thai children are brought up on a diet of crocodile folk tales which includes the story of Chalawan, a giant crocodile said to eat humans, especially virgin girls.

See also:

05 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Crocodile influx threatens Australia
15 Jun 99 | Americas
Rare crocodile bites back
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