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Whale meat is back on the menu in Iceland

Whale meat is back on the menu in Iceland

Whale meat is back on the menu in Iceland
September 2, 2008

Whale meat is back at restaurants and food markets in Iceland, reports the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, a marketer for Iceland’s only licensed whaling company, Hrefnuveidimenn ehf, is working to repackage the meat — traditionally a cheap source of protein — as a chic delicacy to a new generation of prosperous Icelanders. He hopes whale sushi, vacuum-sealed marinated whale meat, whale pepper steak, whale schnitzel, and other innovations can help expand the market for products made from Minke whales, thereby increasing pressure on the government to allow more whaling. Whale killing is currently limited to around 40 minkes per year, but expansion might allow Hrefnuveidimenn to eventually target export markets such as Japan, the world’s largest consumer of whale products. Like Iceland, Japan is also pushing whale meat among young people via school lunch programs and other schemes.

Jonsson says whale meat should be compelling to “urban hipsters”, writes Daniel Michaels of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. “It looks and tastes like beef but costs about half as much.”

Not all Icelanders agree that the effort to push for further whaling is a smart move for the country.

“Although opinion polls have shown general support for whaling among Icelanders, some shun the meat because of the giant creatures’ still-limited numbers,” writes Michaels. “Others worry that whaling will hurt Iceland’s image and thus harm its thriving tourist industry.”

Michaels cites Eva Maria Thorarinsdottir, marketing manager of Reykjavik’s Elding Whale Watching, who notes that “minke whales were much friendlier before hunting resumed, but now they avoid ships”:

Daniel Michaels. Supersize Me: Whale Meat Resurfaces on Iceland Menus. WALL STREET JOURNAL September 2, 2008; Page A1

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