Wanem kaen tin ia? (What kind of canned meat is this here?)  Storian - the Vanuatu Aelan Walkabaot blog

By Stephen
January 2010

Canned fish and meat ("tin") is almost a Vanuatu staple. It is convenient and keeps without refrigeration. If there's no fresh meat in the village, you could well be served tin. Tin fish, tin meat (beef), tin pork from China, even chicken comes in tins. There are many strange tins to sample in Vanuatu.

Genuine Solomon Blue label.
Our favourite Solomon Blue.

There is no effective consumer protection in Vanuatu. Chinese stores often sell inferior products at high mark-ups. Many tins appear to be pet-grade. The cheapest Home Brand canned tuna at a Woolworths supermarket in Australia retails for 89 cents (75 Vatu). In Vanuatu, a same-size tin costs upwards of 100 Vatu. Import duties for canned fish account for 20% and Value Added Tax is 12.5% but there is still a great difference in quality. Good quality canned tuna is light in colour and in chunks. Low-grade tuna is dark and shredded.

Fakes and imitations are a familiar Chinese trick. Solomon Blue tin tuna is a popular brand and imitations are more available than the original. Ni-Vanuatu consumers are not very discerning, not aware, may have no choice and usually buy the cheapest. In 2008 or 2009, Australia was exporting Chinese rice processed and packaged as Sunrice. The 20 kg bags were deviously labelled PRODUCT OF P.R.C. Several Ni-Vans I asked did not know that P.R.C. was China.

Giaman Solomon Blue label.
Imitation Solomon Blue. Product of Thailand.

Find a good tin and stick to that brand. The white Solomon Blue tin tuna is reasonable but not widely available and quality has declined in recent years. Look for higher grades. For beef, Santo Meat is relatively clean. Bon appetit.

1 Comment | Comment on this article

Lisa wrote:
I'm not sure that if some of the tinned fish would even qualify for pet grade! It is offal and floor sweepings. I've found the brands packaged in Fiji to be the best, and totally avoid anything that comes from China or Thailand.
27 March 2011, 06:24

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