April 22nd, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Meat varieties that have not traditionally been part of Costa Rican cuisine are slowly but surely gaining in popularity, especially lamb, buffalo and rabbit.
Producers believe that the low fat content and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are driving the trend.
Both Automercado and Walmart are selling lamb, buffalo and rabbit, and managers confirm that demand has been growing in recent years.
Buffalo has been raised in Costa Rica for several years, although some butchers sell it as beef, Alvaro Salas, president of the Association of Buffalo Breeders told La Nacion recently.
There are some 15,000 buffalo in Costa Rica across some 100 farms. Producers slaughter about 4,000 heads of buffalo per year.
Meanwhile, there are about 50,000 lambs being raised in the country, both for the production of meat as well as dairy.
Antonio Lachner, president of Ganadera El Volcán S.A., said when his company began producing lamb a little over a decade ago, demand for the meat was so low his company sacrificed just five animals per week. Now, the company sacrifices around 120 animals per week, he said.
Lachner said there is a worldwide shortage of lamb, and that his company has demand for export from as far away as Turkey, but does not currently have the production capacity for export.
Gary, a butcher at Uncle Earl’s Fine Meats in Jaco, told Inside Costa Rica that interest in nontraditional meats by their Costa Rican customers is growingly slowly but surely, primarily by word of mouth. “Someone’s sister-in-law tells them to try it, and they like it,” he said.