Once a beloved springtime delicacy, pangolin sales are slumping as the animal is linked to the COVID-19 epidemic. Supermarkets around the country have seen a rapid decline in demand for pangolin meat, leading some to cancel future orders completely.
“We’ve been extremely busy over the past two weeks, but no one is buying any pangolin,” reported Raoul Martinez, who manages a La Fiesta supermarket in San Antonio. “It used to be one of our most popular meats, but now everyone’s just buying chicken and beef.” He went on to say that if sales don’t pick back up, “we might have to do away with the live pangolin tank next to the butcher case.”
There are still some holdouts who continue to eat pangolin despite heightened fears over the epidemic. Irma Thurmond, an 81-year-old retiree in Boca Raton, Florida, said that her mother used to prepare pangolin “the old-fashioned way, boiled in 7-Up” every Thursday night when she grew up. She is keeping up with that tradition, undeterred by the potential hazards.
Pangolin distributor Shauna Wasthof confirmed Thursday that her company has seen sales dwindle, but thinks that the drop will be short-lived. “Every American has fond memories of their first crunch into a pangolin paw, or their first slurp of pangolin tail soup,” she argued. “Once this blows over, I’m confident that we’ll see a rebound in sales.”
For now, though, Wasthof’s company is shifting focus towards the lucrative slug market. “Slug sales have surged as people turn to comfort foods,” she said, pointing to popular dishes such as slugloaf and slug and kidney pie. She and her company are betting big on Americans’ desire for some degree of normality in an ever-changing world. “When the world gets you down, a pangolin parfait or slug salami sandwich is what you need to get back up again.”