Mongolia is a heavily meat consuming country. It has been that way for centuries. However recently there have been a lot of issues with the quality of meat that we are consuming. But it’s funny how the issues that been existing for a while, suddenly have become a huge problem. For example, meat sold in the wet markets like Mercury and Bars (read more about UB’s wet markets here), there is no proper storage or display used. Sanitation levels are almost non-existent, and the knowledge of the sellers is very limited. Due to the rising need for meat with source of origin known and proper handling, these wet markets have been taking a hit.
But have they?
Meat prices are as high as it ever was, and to maybe 15% of the population it’s not an issue and easily overlooked, but to the mass population even a 500 tugrug increase is a huge hit below the belt. Prices of sheep is up to 11,000 / kg at Mercury market, from 9,500 only 3,4 months ago. But people still need to eat. So people still buy.
But what are you really buying?
Most of the meat that these B2C wet markets sell have come from another B2B meat market called Khuchit Shonkhor (more on the meat vendor here), located a bit away from the city. Meat supplying middlemen usually hold the reins there, buying from herdsmen and reselling to wet markets and supermarkets at a hefty price. Consumers are welcome to go and get cheaper meat from there, but because of the inconvenience they usually just go to locations closer to their homes.
Some people actually get their meat in bulk straight from relatives, or friends who live in the countryside. For them it’s more reliable and cheaper. For example, Mr. Dorj could buy a whole sheep, have it prepared and sent out to the city, freeze most of it and have meat available for months and months. Same with beef, horse meat, goat meat. But people don’t always want to eat frozen meat that’s been stored for months on end, people tend to crave freshness in what they buy. Wet markets provide just that when they display their meats as fresh kill. But one can never be 100% sure. Like mentioned before, there is no sanitation, no certification, no guarantee etc.,
But we still go there to buy…regardless.