35+ Remarkable Exotic Meat Trade Statistics

The exotic meat trade presents challenges of legality, sustainability, and health risks, with a rising demand for unique meats despite concerns over wildlife conservation and zoonotic diseases.

Cusco, Peru; 1st January 2023: Stall selling meat in the central market of Sant Jerónimo de Cusco in Peru.

The exotic meat trade is a contentious issue. Some exotic meat, like a kangaroo, has grown in popularity and is now even being farmed like the ostrich. Studies suggest that the lean meat provided by exotic meat is more than the higher-fat meats people are used to consuming. 

However, not all of the exotic meat trade is legal. Some meat is poached, and some meat is smuggled in against safety regulations. It is a sustainability and conversation issue and a health issue stemming from the danger of zoonotic viruses that can pass from animals to humans. 

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Top 10 Exotic Meat Trade Statistics

Here are some of the top exotic meat trade statistics you should know: 

  • Only six countries in Europe have mechanisms in place to monitor the regulation and control of the exotic meat trade
  • A 2010 study estimated that over 270 tons of bushmeat arrive annually through the Charles de Gaulle airport
  • The same study found that 98.5% of wild meat arriving in Swiss airports came from Africa
  • On average, 1.6 million kangaroos were killed per year between 2010 and 2018 for commercial purposes, including meat
  • The Australian government, on average, authorizes the hunting of 6.3 million kangaroos
  • Between 2019 and 2021, lamb and exotic meat sales grew year-over-year at +2.1% and +0.8%, respectively
  • South Africa produces the most wild game on the continent at 75%
  • The camel meat market is projected to grow by $74.5 million between 2022-2026
  • 2 out of every 100 dogs in Southeast Asia intended for consumption are rabid
  • Out of 1,415 human pathogens, 61% are zoonotic

Exotic Meat Trade Statistics

Here’s a little more information about exotic meat trade statistics;

Only Six Countries in Europe Have Mechanisms in Place to Monitor the Regulation and Control of the Exotic Meat Trade (WWF)

These countries are France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. However, they still face challenges in enforcing regulations.

A 2010 Study Estimated That Over 270 Tons of Bushmeat Arrive Annually Through the Charles de Gaulle Airport (Berggorilla & Reginwald)

This study examined the risk to exotic animals from the wild bushmeat trade through Switzerland.

The Same Study Found That 98.5% Of Wild Meat Arriving in Swiss Airports Came From Africa (Berggorilla & Reginwald)

91% of the wild meat confiscated came from Western or Central African countries. 

More Than 1,000 Global Species Are Affected by Bushmeat Hunting (Convention on Biological Diversity)

Bushmeat hunters use leg snares to trap the animals and prefer bigger animals as they fetch higher prices. 

On Average, 1.6 Million Kangaroos Were Killed per Year Between 2010 and 2018 for Commercial Purposes, Including Meat (Eurogroup for Animals)

This made the kangaroo hunt the most giant commercial hunt in Australia. 

The Australian Government, on Average, Authorizes the Hunting of 6.3 Million Kangaroos (Eurogroup for Animals)

This authorization raises concerns about conservation and cruelty to the animals during the hunting process. 

Between 2019 and 2021, Lamb and Exotic Meat Sales Grew Year-Over-Year at +2.1% And +0.8%, Respectively (The National Provisioner

This was amid a downtrend in the market and sales of other livestock and meats.

South Africa Produces the Most Wild Game on the Continent at 75% (The South African Government)

South African game meat dominates the volume of exotic meat traded but doesn’t fetch the highest prices.

The Camel Meat Market Is Projected To Grow by $74.5 Million Between 2022-2026 (Businesswire)

This figure considers the growing demand for protein-rich meats that have made camel meat appealing to consumers.

2 Out of Every 100 Dogs in Southeast Asia Intended for Consumption Are Rabid (CDC)

The Asia Canine Protection Alliance is working hard to prevent cruelty to dogs and stop the disease from those who consume them.

Out of 1,415 Human Pathogens, 61% Are Zoonotic (CDC)

Some of the more destructive and widespread of these viruses have included HIV and COVID-19.

In Vietnam, Over 200 Species, Including Lizards, Wild Cats, Elephants, and Deer, Are Regularly Traded as Meat or for Medicinal Purposes (Faunalytics)

Of these 200 species, around 80 of them are considered threatened. 

The Biggest Threat To Exotic Animals in Vietnam Is the Appetites of a Newly-Wealthy, Urban Middle Class (Faunalytics)

There is a significant demand in areas like Hanoi for exotic meat at restaurants, some even specializing in serving protected animals.

Between 1997 and 2016, the Illegal Wildlife Trade Was Worth Between $2.9 and $4.4 Trillion U.S. Dollars (Global Ecology and Conservation)

Other than the exotic meat trade, these numbers also apply to products made from animals and the exotic pet trade. 

Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Account For 70%-90% Of the Global Export of Shark Fins (Traffic)

These numbers are based on data compiled between 2005 and 2011.

Hong Kong Is the Largest Shark Fin Trading Hub Handling up to 40% Of the Shark Fin Trade (Traffic)

They also handle about 90% of shark fin imports. 

Hong Kong Imported 6,993.4 KG of Basking Shark Fins From Norway in 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2012 (Traffic)

This led them to be responsible for 90% of global reported CITIES shark fin imports. 

The Next Largest Shark Fin Importer Was Spain Which Reported 602 KG of Porbeagle Shark Fin (Traffic)

After Spain, Singapore was next on the top importer list with a reported kg of basking shark fin.

A 2006 Study Found That the Average Hunter in the Gile Game Reserve Found in Mozambique Can Earn More Money From the Sale of Exotic Meat Than From Farming (Traffic)

The average earning for exotic meat over four months was $29, whereas annual crop sales would bring in $49.

In the Philippines and Palawan, Sea Horse Traders and Fishers Reported That About 30%-40% Of Their Income Was From Seahorses (Traffic)

In the primary fishing season, this percentage can jump to 80%-100%.

A 2010 Study Found That the Majority of the 5 Tons of Bushmeat Arriving Weekly in Paris Came From Cameroon (Berggorilla)

This suggested that Cameroon served as a hub for bushmeat exports to Europe.

The Leading Importers of Kangaroo Meat for Pet Food and Human Consumption in the EU Are Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and France (Eurogroup for Animals)

Italy and Germany are the leading importers of kangaroo skins, hide, and leather.

12 Countries Accounted For 99% Of Australian Kangaroo Meat Exports (Eurogroup for Animals)

Countries outside the E.U. that made it into the top 12 include Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Korea, South Africa, the USA, Canada, and New Zealand.

The Estimate for Trade, Local, and Regional Consumption of Wild Animal Meat in Africa Is Over 1 Billion Kilograms a Year (CDC)

Estimates for consumption in the Amazon Basin are between 67 to 164 million kilograms annually. 

From November 1994 to January 1995, Tick-Infested Animal Shipments Affected Over 54,376 Animals (CDC)

While contracting viruses from animals pose a danger, it also extends to parasites imported with the animals. 

Even Though Only One Case of Trichinosis Has Been Linked To Home-Raised Swine, Recent Outbreaks Have Been Attributed to the Consumption of Wild Boar (CDC)

While trichinosis is rare in the U.S, it is a public health concern in places that eat raw or undercooked game meat or pork.

Zoonosis Is Responsible for 75% Of Today’s Emerging Diseases (Veterinary Clinics)

These diseases come from exotic meat as well as exotic pets and wildlife. 

In a Study of Polish Consumers, 77.6% Believed That Exotic Game Meat Had a Positive Effect on Their Health (NIH)

However, 80% of that study sample felt that hunting was not an acceptable way of obtaining meat.

Of Those Polish Consumers Comfortable With Eating Exotic Game Meat, 95.1% Reported That They Do Not Eat Raw Meat (NIH)

86.4% said they only eat it at home, while 52% agreed to eat it from a trusted establishment.

Shark Fin Imports From the U.S. To China Account For 9% Of the Shark Fin Trade (Traffic)

Hong Kong accounts for 19% of the trade with China. 

A March 2020 Study of People Living in Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong Found That Those With a Greater Awareness of COVID-19 Were 11%-24% Less Likely To Buy or Consume Wildlife Products (WWF)

This study was done early in the COVID-19 pandemic when it mainly affected Asian countries. 

Some Estimates Reveal That Around 40,000 Live Primates, 4 Million Live Birds, 640,000 Live Reptiles and 350 Million Live Tropical Fish Are Traded Each Year (CDC

For example, live wildlife markets in China sell and trade masked palm civets, barking deer, wild boars, hedgehogs, foxes, squirrels, snakes, endangered leopard cats, domestic cats, dogs, and rabbits.

Outbreaks of Livestock Disease Have Cost the World’s Economy Over $80 Billion Since the Mid-1990s (CDC)

Diseases included zoonosis like avian influenza, mad cow disease, and swine fever. 

In 2003, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Reported That More Than One-Third of the Global Meat Trade Was Embargoed (CDC)

The culprit again was diseases like mad cow disease and avian influenza. 

A Total of 10,231 Illegal Hunting Incidents Were Recorded in Save Valley Conservancy From 2001 to 2009 (Cambridge)

These illegal hunting incidents resulted in the loss of 6,454 animals over 48 species. 

One Property in the Save Valley Conservancy, Hippo Haven, Removed 89.8 Snares KM per Year From 2005 to 2009 (Cambridge)

This contrasts the 1.16 snares km removed from 1998-1999.

Wrap Up

The exotic meat trade statistics show that exotic meat, bushmeat, wild game, exotic sea creatures, and even farmed exotic meat are big businesses. With culinary adventurism in vogue, the exotic meat trade doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

Still, efforts to protect animals and make people aware of the potential personal and global risks of exotic meat are being made more than ever. 

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