Where is my Meat?

Price of meat soars with limited supply in the market and as restaurants lose customers

The price of meat has increased due to the limited supply from the source and ban of meat imports in the country. Before the holy month, beef was sold at Nu 300 per kilogram (kg), pork was sold at Nu 400 per kg and chicken was sold at Nu 600 per bird.

After the holy month ended, the price has increased. Currently, beef is sold at Nu 350 per kg, pork at 450 per kg and Nu 700 for an entire chicken.

However, that is provided you can get your hands on it as most shops are closed by afternoon, due to the high consumer demand, as there is nothing much left to sell.

Owner of Kaka Meat Shop said that the meat is not available at present since the supply is limited.

“We use to get meat daily but after the ban of meat imports, there is a limited supply from local suppliers and we hardly get it once a week,” she said.

She said that she is able to bring only 200-300 kg of beef per week due to the limited and costly price of local beef. She said that the beef supply to her meat shop comes from Tsirang.

“The price of meat has gone up from the source, itself. The limited stock also gets sold within a day.  And because we can’t bring the imported meat, we have to manage with what we get locally,” she said, adding that with little income she is just managing to pay the house rent and staff salary.

B.K Meat Shop owner said that the meat prices have increased due to increase in the price from the source.

“Price of meat has soared because the place from where we bring meat has also hiked the price given that there is a limited stock, and sometimes it is also not available,” she said.

Shangrila Goldchain owner in Centenary Farmers Market said that people do not want to consume much of the packaged and frozen meat, except for beef.

“People don’t prefer packaged meats and they hardly consume it. Currently, the packed beef has been sold out and only pork is left and people don’t buy it much,” she said.

Tseten, a restaurant owner in Zangdopelri, Thimphu said that there is a decrease in the number of customers in the restaurant since there is no meat to serve the people.

“With the huge population in the city, beef dishes are extremely popular here. At the restaurant, we buy 200 kgs of beef in a month, with one kg serving five portions. Now there is only a limited meat supply which gets sold out, and we do not get it,” he said.

Three Square Restaurant owner Sonam said that there are less customers eating at the restaurant as there is hardly any meat to serve.

“People rarely visit my hotel as there is limited meat in the market and I am not able to serve the meat dishes that the customer orders. However, at the moment I am serving only vegetarian dishes and there is less customers,” she said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests on March 2020 issued an official notice banning the import of meat.

The ministry also issued a notice on 22 June 2020 that the import of processed, frozen and packaged meat (beef, chicken, fish, chevon, mutton and other sea food) including dry fish will be allowed in the country from the companies registered with BAFRA.

However, that has so far done little to alleviate the shortage.

The shortage of domestic meat also shows the hollowing out and failure of the livestock or domestic meat industry especially in the last few years with people being ostracized in the villages for raising animals for meat.

This is coupled with a Tsethar movement in urban areas that raise funds to free animals meant for slaughter.

Bhutan has the highest per capita consumption of meat in South Asia, but it does not have a viable meat industry due to largely hypocritical social and religious norms of eating meat but not wanting to be part the process from where meat comes.

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