In shock news for Germans everywhere, the sausage industry is feeling the rising cost of importing sheep intestines from Iran, leading Nürnberger Bratwurst producer Claus Steiner told The Local on Friday.
Sheep intestinal lining – a key ingredient in making the sausage – is largely imported from Iran, which has a 500-year history of trading animal by-products. But this may change, as the price of sheep gut has almost tripled in the past 18 months.
A year and a half ago 90 metres of intestinal lining, enough to encase about 1,000 delicious bratwursts, cost just €6.30. But now the same length costs a whopping €17.20 - an alarming price hike that sausage-loving Germans may feel come barbecue season.
“There’s no replacement for a Nürnberger Bratwurst,” said Steiner, owner of the successful self-named butcher's chain.
The Nürnberger is a traditional German delicacy made of finely ground pork, cased in intestinal lining and seasoned with marjoram. By European Union regulations, it can only be called a Nürnberger Bratwurst if it's made in the Nuremberg area – like Parma ham, or champagne.
“I don’t think customers will stop buying them, and we’re not expecting a loss in sales. They will just be a little more expensive,” said Steiner.
He explained that the price increase is not only down to heated political relations between the two countries, but a global decrease in the sale of meat products.
“Sheep intestinal lining is a by-product, not a reason a sheep is slaughtered.” Steiner said. “So if less people are buying meat, less sheep are being killed and less lining is available.”
Though meat trade is decreasing worldwide, Iran has experienced a swell in demand for intestinal lining from China, which until recently had very little demand for animal guts.
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With Iranian intestines at a premium, Steiner is looking into importing from other countries such as Egypt, which also exports sausage casing.
“Another option is pig lining, but the taste is just not comparable to sheep,” he said.