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The Aguu pig debate: mixed blood versus purebred taste

Date Posted: 2009-06-18

Okinawa’s home grown pig, the Aguu, is popular with everyone, but now the producers are splitting hairs as to whether the traditional pig is best, or if a mixed blood pig is better.

The bottom line first; tourists and others eating the Aguu pig can’t tell the difference, and neither can most restaurant owners. That worries producers, who want to ingrain the value of Aguu, educating suppliers on the benefits of promoting the purebred Okinawa Aguu. There are currently about 600 purebred Aguu on the island.

At the same time, the number of mixed blood Aguu pigs total 12,000, with JA Okinawa marketing the mixed Aguu-brand. Officials say the purebred Aguu is smaller than its European counterpart, and grows slower, making it more expensive. The mixed blood version is a cross breeding between Okinawa’s purebred and Europe’s Yorkshire pig. Daigoro Yamamoto, who’s been studying the two types Aguu for one of the associations, says “I agree that to have more production of Aguu, there needs to be a mix for having a good taste.”

Yamamoto questions whether anyone really notices the difference, or even cares. “How about meat restaurants,” he asks. “They don’t know if the Aguu meat is purebred or mixed, and lots of tourists who’ve tasted Aguu don’t know either.” He cautions, though, that “if restaurant owners don’t know about the differences, it could cause Okinawa’s purebred Aguu brand damage. We would prefer to protect the pure blood Aguu meat,” he adds, “even though it takes time to prodice a small pig. It’s far more valuable meet.”

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