Earlier this holiday season in the United Kingdom, German discount supermarket chain Lidl took just two weeks to sell out of out of 20,000 deluxe diced reindeer steaks—at about $13 each.
“The demand from our customers has been huge,” Lidl spokeswoman Clare Norman explained, according to The Independent.
For a good month now, succulent slabs of Dasher, Dancer and Prancer and Vixen have remained very difficult to procure in the UK and other parts of Europe. The exotic novelty meat has also been a source of persistent controversy. Britain’s tabloids have been having a field day with the hullabaloo.
Over the weekend, for example, The Daily Mirror splashed a story on its pages about how some large Russian companies — Big Reindeer, if you will — slaughter the animals in the very same tundra-filled area of the world where Stalin’s political prisoners once died in gulags.
The Mirror’s story also explains in great, gory detail how the animals are killed. There’s a paralyzing electrical charge to the head. There’s hanging upside down. There’s a sliced reindeer throat and a slow, steady loss of reindeer blood. It’s all very gruesome.
Rosselkhoznadzor, a unit of Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture, has castigated Russian reindeer meat companies for keeping meat intended for eventual human consumption with various scraps, organs and bones intended for livestock feed.
A throng of animal rights groups have vociferously criticized the practice as unsafe and inhumane.
Animal welfare group Viva! has claimed that reindeer producers regularly kill the wolves and bears that try to feed on roaming reindeer stocks.
“No one likes the idea of eating Rudolph at Christmas,” a PETA representative added, according to The Independent.
Lidl begs to differ.
“All of our stock has already sold out, which demonstrates how phenomenally popular the product has become,” a company representative said.
If you want to buy and eat a Rudolph ribeye in Western Europe this Christmas season, it won’t be easy.
Earlier this month, according to The Independent, Finnish reindeer producers turned down requests from German, French and Spanish companies for reindeer because of dwindling supply.
In fact, Finland itself has even had to import limited supplies of reindeer from Russia this year.
Reindeer roam in many cold-climate countries in northern Asia and northern Europe. They can also be found in Canada, Greenland and Alaska.