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Thursday, January 29, 2015

when Pigs flew Business Class in Boeing 747 !!

Pigs are not the animals much liked – looked down all the times.  There is a phrase ‘when pigs will fly’ is a hyperbolic figure of speech that describes an improbable occurrence.  The meaning is that such a circumstance would never occur !.  Perhaps the only place where Pigs are treated better are in the 1994 Walt Disney animated film ‘The Lion King’- where also Timon (the meerkat) is intelligent personified and Pumbaa (the warthog) is the foolhardy character.  The name Pumbaa is derived  from the East African language Swahili where again it means -  "to be foolish, silly, weakminded, careless, negligent".

Trade and commerce can quite often be strange.. a simple understanding of Trade would be the supply or making available the goods in a place where they are most required from the places where they available in plenty.   One does not try selling a Refrigerator to an Eskimo – ‘Carrying Coal to New Castle” is an idiom of British Origin portraying the foolhardy or pointless action.  

Newcastle upon Tyne  is a city  in North East England on the bank of River Tyne which grew as an important trade centre for wool and a major coal mining area. The economy of the area flourished with the distribution and sale of coal and the phrase indignantly meant the act of doing an act which no sane person would do and the act doomed to failure.  It is another matter that Timothy Dexter known for his eccentricity did consign coal to Newcastle and made a profit during a miner’s strike which had crippled local production !!   -  the importance of coal to industry has much declined with the usage of diesel and then electricity as power; still the expression is still used with accuracy and exactitude.  Later the harbour of New Castle in New South Wales in Australia also grew to be a major handler of coal is another matter.  

Pigs are one of the animals to be domesticated before centuries and are one of the most widespread mammals found in many parts of the World.  They have been introduced to many parts of the World and rearing of pigs has been a flourishing trade thanks to the adaptation of this creature to the environment.  Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig  eaten in many countries. Burgers are the most sought food in many places and usually connotes a sandwich consisting of cooked patty of meat (usually beef) placed inside a sliced bread roll. There are many vegetarian variations though !   The meat is processed in different forms which extends its shelf-life (what a misnomer extending life after one is killed !!)

Once in a hotel, there was this particularly tempting fried brownish  dish ‘sausage’ which I sheepishly enquired whether it was vegetarian ? [fortunately before ripping into it] - and by that Q came to know that ‘sausage’ is a food usually made from ground meat, mixed with salt, herbs and spices.  Though vegetarian versions are available, typically they are made from intestine..  this is no post about ‘what was not eaten and what should not be’ – but something on why British pigs are flying in Jumbo jets to China !!

China is one of the largest consumers of pork and a Country  famous for its sweet and sour pork.  Typically what is available locally should not find market from elsewhere ! – again no one would ever think it logical that somebody would spend  amounta as high as  £2,000 per pig when locally it much much cheaper.  But in reality it is happening   for satisfying the growing appetite of the burgeoning middle class of China and because British stock have a far higher fertility rate than Chinese breeds.  Daily Mail reports that an entire Boeing 747 was  hired at £330,000 per trip to fly pigs in more comfort on the 5,500-mile journey than humans often have in economy class.  It is an extraordinary turn of events for a country of 1.3 billion once known for eating everything and anything.  The report states that due to sophisticated breeding programmes, an average British-bred sow gives birth to 22 piglets a year, compared with 14 for a Chinese one.  The initial price for a breeding sow in Britain is between £400 and £500, but with transportation the cost of exporting one rises to £2,000.  A total of 1,239 pigs left the UK before the summer and a further 900 are flying out this month.  By the end of the year close to 5000 pigs would be living in their new home of China after a new livestock trade agreement.  
Before putting them on aircraft, the pigs are loaded on to the aircraft in slatted pallets in groups of 15 to 20. the pigs have reasonably good space for stretching out, rolling and standing during the long air transportation.  Sufficient quantities of food and water are also planned to be provided during the transport.  Even humans do not get so much of space when travelling in an economy class.  

The Chinese liking to the pig dish has rejuvenated the beleaguered pig rearing industry in UK.  A spokesperson of British Pig Executive was quoted as saying that they were seen as top-notch in the World (when it came to pig breeding stock) and will conquer China, aiming for Vietnam and South Korea In the early part of the last Century, they had claimed that ‘Sun never sets in the British Empire’.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

31st Oct 2011.

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