Crocodile meat is produced as a by-product to skin production. Meat is produced for both the local and international export markets. The Company’s abattoir is approved to export meat products into designated countries in both Europe and Asia, and is the only Zimbabwean operation that is currently active in this regard.
Approximately 5.5kgs of meat product is produced per carcass slaughtered. European export production exceeds 100 tonnes per annum, with the deboned tail and eye fillets being regarded as the most desirable cuts. The remainder of the carcass has traditionally been of great value to Asian customers and at its peak in 2004 a total of 322 tonnes of product was exported to this market. Demand in both markets has fallen off since the mid-nineties and the volumes exported are no longer at the same levels as previously. This is a function of changing customer tastes in Europe and competition from cheaper crocodile meat in Asia. Crocodilian meat is regarded as one of the healthiest and leanest choices of meat available to consumers, more so than domestic chicken. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol but high in protein and is a popular choice for athletes, body-builders and weight-watchers. Crocodilian meat has a delicate flavor, and some describe the taste as a cross between chicken and crab. In Asia, crocodile meat has long been considered a delicacy, and there are supposed medicinal benefits associated with eating such a powerful and predatory animal. Consumption in Europe is mainly associated with high end speciality restaurants.
As with crocodiles, meat is also a by-product in the production of alligator skins, but all the meat produced is consumed domestically within the United States. Alligator meat is highly popular in the USA, particularly in the southern states. Fresh alligator meat is considered a Cajun delicacy, and is used to give a special flavour to popular dishes in the USA.
All Padenga’s meat products, irrespective of market, are subject to stringent quality control procedures throughout the production process. There is full traceability of product from the pen, through slaughter, processing and final packaging, and on to delivery of the finished product to the customer. Rigorous bacteriological and chemical residue testing protocols are followed to ensure that meat products meet the standards set by the Public Health and Veterinary Authorities of the various receiving countries.