Hunters in Kamijima, Ehime Prefecture, are taking steps to sell the meat of wild boars that were killed because they damage agricultural products in the town.
In August, an association of local hunters began selling raw ham made from wild boars to businesses, as part of measures implemented by the town and prefectural governments to cope with the harmful animals. The raw ham is the first processed product of its kind in this endeavor.
From November, the association also plans to sell the raw ham to individual consumers.
People concerned are enthusiastic about the project. "It doesn’t smell like wild animals. We hope people will come to know how rich the taste of the meat is," one said.
Kamijima is on a remote island in the Seto Inland Sea. Wild boars were confirmed in the town about 10 years ago, and are believed to have swum to the island from nearby isles.
The boars have eaten mainly citrus fruits, harming agriculture in Kamijima. According to the town government, about 8,000 square meters of farming land were damaged in fiscal 2016, and 290 boars were culled.
Some portions of meat from the exterminated boars had been consumed by individuals, but most of the boars were disposed of by incineration.
To better utilize the meat, the town government established a boar-meat processing facility in 2012.
Currently the town’s Juniku Shori Kako Kai, an association of about 20 hunters from the town, processes about 150 boars annually and sells the meat.
Gibier growing in popularity
The meat from wild animals such as boar and deer is called gibier, and is popular in Europe. It has also been increasingly popular in Japan in recent years because it is low-calorie and high in protein.
To increase the umami taste of the meat, the association matures it in refrigerators for 10 to 14 days before shipping it out.
The products have been circulated mainly inside the town, and also used for school lunches. The association decided to process the meat into raw ham, in a bid to produce unique products with higher added value.
Yoshitaka Kanbara, a 40-year-old chef of French cuisine who won a bronze medal in the Culinary Olympics in 2016, supervised the production, and the association succeeded in producing raw ham for businesses.
People concerned said the raw ham of wild boars has a richer umami taste than that made from pigs.
In late August, about 130 cooks in the prefecture gathered in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, and the association asked them to taste the raw ham. It received high praise, with one saying: "The ham doesn’t have a strange taste. I couldn’t believe it was made from boar."
Association head Takashi Onomura, 70, said: "We thoroughly remove the blood so there are no bad odors left in the meat, and only use the parts that are suitable for processing. We’ll make more efforts to improve the quality so the products will continue to receive high praise."Speech