The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Teruel Ham is one of the prides of Aragon. Every year, some five million hams or shoulders are cured in the province of Teruel, of which only 300,000 reach the PDO category. This is due to the strict quality parameters required. These requirements must also be met by all pork meat if it is to be marketed with the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Cerdo de Teruel, which was granted this year and which differentiates it from pork from other parts of the country. In fact, Teruel pork is the only pork recognized in Spain with the PGI.
“We make a very positive assessment, of course. We have pigs of extraordinary quality and until now only ham and shoulder were recognized. With this indicator (PGI), the meat of the whole animal is recognized,” says Ricardo Mosteo, president of the Regulatory Council of the PDO Jamón de Teruel. For him, the label is also a way to put an end to imitators and to position the Cerdo de Teruel in the world. “Cerdo de Teruel can only be obtained in Teruel. And this is a way of providing more arguments, another weapon for us in such a competitive and globalized world,” he explains.
The latest figures announced by the DOP Jamón de Teruel reflect a turnover of 34 million euros in 2021 for hams and shoulders alone. And this is a downward approximation, because the figure does not take into account the prices of sliced or sliced ham or the pork meat industry. “It is a fundamental sector in the province of Teruel,” Mosteo points out. “Between farms, slaughterhouses, dryers, cutting plants and packaging, there are more than 200 companies in more than 100 towns. So it is elemental for the vertebration of the territory,” he adds.
At present, the requirements for a pig to obtain the Jamón de Teruel PDO are basically that it be raised, slaughtered and cut in the province of Teruel, that the animal comes from a cross between the Landrace and Large White breeds on the mother’s side and 100% Duroc on the father’s, that its feed be based on local cereals and that it have a hot weight equal to or greater than 86 kilos and a back fat thickness of between 16 and 45 millimeters.
According to Mosteo, the key to the success of Jamón de Teruel is that it comes from large pigs, with a lot of fat. “We aim for very high standards,” he says. And these same characteristics are distinguished in all the animal’s meat for fresh consumption. Because, precisely, everything is used from the pig: the head, the skin, the meat, the trotters and even the blood to make blood sausage.
“The PGI will have an impact outside Spain in terms of volume and price”.
At the moment, the sale of Teruel pork is mainly national. Although it is also marketed in Europe -especially France, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom-, South America and Asia. A trajectory that the PDO expects to soar thanks to the PGI. “We expect repercussions outside Spain in terms of volume and price,” acknowledges Mosteo. In Spain, the autonomous communities that consume the most Teruel pork are Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia.
Likewise, they estimate that it will be in the first quarter of 2023 when the IGP Cerdo de Teruel logo, which still has no shape or color, will start to be seen in butcher’s shops.
Naturuel: “It is a recognition of so many years of work”.
One of the Teruel companies that will be positively affected by the IGP Cerdo de Teruel is the agri-food corporation Naturuel. There they have been working for more than 25 years with pork, marketing it in different parts of Spain and the world. “It is good news that Europe is looking at the way we are doing it in the province. It is a recognition of the work of many years,” exclaims Naturuel’s commercial director, Alejandro Garcés.
Specifically, Naturuel is dedicated to pigs and controls the entire production process, from cereal production to the distribution of ham or fresh meat. “We sell in premium markets because the meat is of high quality,” says Garcés. In his opinion, a loin of Pork from Teruel is much better than that of a pig without a label: “Because it is fattier, it can be cut much more precisely. We can remove pieces such as the lizard or the prey that would not make sense in other white pigs. We have many noble pieces,” he assures.
Naturuel is an example of the empowerment that pork gives to the province of Teruel. From Teruel, they move with ease in both the national and international markets. They sell mainly cut pork in France, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines. According to Garcés, exports account for “around 25% of turnover”.
5,000 pigs a week
“We are small in terms of the world’s meat industry, but big in terms of PDO slaughter, because we do everything as in the past”, specifies Garcés, who adds that among his sales outside Spain, fresh meat is more in demand than ham or shoulder because, “although they are becoming more and more standardized, more meat is consumed abroad”. Every week, more than 5,000 pigs are slaughtered at Naturuel and their meat is exported, mainly Tomahawk chops, needle and secret.
Regarding the PGI, Naturuel’s commercial director believes that it will help to position Teruel meat in Europe because “the client is very loyal to quality figures”. “It is not the same for me to present a meat on the market for them to taste it, assuring them that it is good, as it is for me to carry with me a certificate that proves it,” Garcés reasons, and expresses his wish that pork in Spain will also be revalued: “Hopefully it will help to demonstrate that quality pork can be on a par with any other meat, that it can be a delicacy beyond daily consumption,” he says.