The hugely populated country of China is importing so much Spanish Iberian ham that people living in Spain are suffering as a result. China has developed a penchant for the Iberian ham called jamón ibérico de bellota. This particular type of ham is the result of only feeding Spanish pigs acorns and it takes three years to mature.
Due to more and more Spanish ham being exported to the mass market of China, local people are finding that they need to delve deeper into their pockets. One leg of jamón ibérico can already cost the Spanish buyer hundreds of euros, but the increase in demand means that the costs can increase by around ten percent.
China is now the main importer of Iberian ham which has grown in popularity since more and more people are visiting Spain from China, according to export director René Lemeé of the producer Cinco Jotas.
“The economic crisis in Spain was an incentive [to visit the country], and that allowed many people to meet and fall in love with ham.” said René Lemeé.
The high demand for the Bellota ham is due not only to the time it takes to cure, but also due to the free range pigs needing two hectares to themselves. The specific type of land needed for Bellota grazing is called dehesa. These two necessities are making it hard for producers to keep up with the increasingly high demand.