The recent pandemic has triggered a global alarm about the "live wildlife market" or "wet market" dominant in the Asian food market. China's Wuhan became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and was shut down eventually after receiving heated responses.
Many reports link Wet Markets to be the source of COVID-19 widespread Coronavirus, some enunciate different opinions. Let’s delve into the detailed advantages and disadvantages of Wet Market for the economy as well as the population.
A wet market is a public place where you head to buy vegan and non-vegan perishables such as seafood, fresh or preserved meat, or even live animals. Wet Market is akin to the live wildlife market and bush market (African) that are not just limited to China. Wet market is common in different countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, Africa, and Latin America.
Just because the lethal virus found its roots in the Chinese wet market, people from around the world have a solid reason to dig out more about Wet Market.
Wet Markets are a perfect trade center for meat farmers, animal smugglers, and investors. As a customer, there are different advantages of wet market.
The current situation set aside, the following are the reasons why a wet market place is kept active and open despite the ongoing heated debates.
As predicted by Business Wire, the global meat market is expected to grow by USD 210 billion during 2019-2023. With a growing population, the rise in global meat consumption has also grown prominently. The meat market comprising all the types of sellers contributes to the global revenue. As stated by USDA the global consumption of meat in 2017 was 258 million tonnes. The growing trend of protein intake among health-conscious consumers has also amplified the consumption of meat products and is expected to drive the market revenue over the coming years.
Wet Market paces are centralized hubs for people from the middle & lower-middle classes. Such places are a perfect place to set small-scale meat and agro-industry. Sellers have the least investments to make and are more likely to take profits from what is sold over the stall. Wet markets are a good start for meat farmers and independent sellers and promise a better income than a day job.
You can buy vegetables from one stall and get meat from the one next to it. Where wet markets are beneficial for farmers to meet costumers easily, consumers also get the advantages of wet market by finding every needed item in one place. They don’t need to look for edibles elsewhere as everything they need is available in one place.
The farm and poultry produce are comparatively cheaper than the packaged and preserved food, which encourages people to buy more of such products and edibles at affordable rates.
Despite contributing to the global economy, more and more threatening concerns loom around the wet market. Apart from the agriculture products sold in a wet market, all the risks evolve from animal products. Some of the disadvantages of wet market are as follows.
Wet markets have all sorts of unhygienic practices. Since setting up a stall is easy for vendors, no hygienic practices are followed in order to save extra money. The worsened hygienic practices in meat markets are totally ignored by vendors where fresh meat is chopped and filleted at the same vending stall used for storing the other animals.
Both the farmed and exotic animals are kept in cramped cages that are poorly maintained. Unsanitary enclosures are a friendly source for Zoonotic diseases to mutate and evolve as a vending stall is where animals are dispatched for fillet, with their fecal matter littered at the same place.
In the race to stay healthy and fit, people have gone beyond what’s necessary. Live wildlife markets are identified as slaughterhouses where customers are served fresh meat. Besides selling fish and other seafood, sellers have also been reported to butcher endangered species of animals in return for substantial monetary benefits.
Killing these animals for money or just for the sake of good taste doesn’t seem acceptable to animal lovers. Due to the increased demands of meat, sellers have gone rampantly beyond human practices. Imagine when your plate of filled with a cat, dog, guinea pig, otter, or turtle. Some Asian markets are also known for killing live expensive and endangered animals that accounts for a hefty monetary return.
None knows whether a particular market is regulated or abides by the market rules. This fact solidifies more concerns about food safety and its major risks for the global population. Peacocks, wild bats, Pangolins, monkeys, and other trafficked species are potential source viruses and microorganisms responsible for the widespread of a pandemic.
In a documented report by Quartz’s Senior Reporter, Akshat Rathi, he highlighted some of the real threats of bush market trade. This study hyped the concerns as to why unregulated wildlife markets across Southeast Asia should be closed. According to a report on Zoonotic Diseases released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 3 out of 4 new emerging infectious diseases in people are traced back to animals.
Wet markets have been pretty dominant in Asian markets including China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Some of these markets are backed up by their respective governments due to substantial turnover. Most of the markets sell meat that is prohibited.
Meat farmers have to rely on these roadside markets to stay competitive and earn profits from their selling. If not all, the government should come up with some regulatory measures to ban killing animals that pose a threat to humankind to prevent outbreak situations in the future.
Live animal markets are linked to the spread of viral outbreaks and have been blamed for selling illegal meat products to customers. Many Asian markets are known to sell endangered animal species which are either smuggled or captured despite government restrictions.
Vendors and meat farmers can reach customers easily by taking their produce straight to customers. A wet market vendor has marginally more profit and few expenses as compared to the supermarket. Plus, there is no regulatory excise to pay as a vendor which ensures a more reliable income.
Malpractices like selling fake meat products and prohibited animals are on the rise in the Chinese meat market. According to a report published by Guardian, the Chinese government has lately arrested fake meat scandals.
Live meat markets tend to ignore all the protocols required to keep the produce safe from contamination. Animals kept in cages are slaughtered in front of consumers while selling. It means the unsanitized enclosures are where animals' blood and feces would be present.