Discover Mangulica, the World’s Finest Pig

Katarina Anđelković

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Mangulica pig

Photo: Udruga Mangulica website

June 8, 2023 – Have you heard of Mangulica? If you are from Slavonia, you might have. Otherwise, you’re about to discover a whole new world. Mangulica is an indigenous breed of pig in Croatia and one of the most sought-after delicacies in the world. For the last year or so, it has been experiencing a remarkable comeback and production growth.

Too little is known about the Mangulica breed in Croatia, writes Glas Slavonije. However, In some other countries, this breed is recognized as the world’s leading brand. The Association of Pig Breeders of the Mangulica breed was founded to connect breeders to improve the knowledge and skills of breeders and protect the breed as part of the biological heritage of Croatia.

The association organized a workshop for “Little Pig Farmers,” which presented life on a farm for children and parents. The aim was to inform the public and popularize the Mangulica breed. It was part of a project financed through grants from the Ministry of Agriculture titled “Live well, live in a rural area!”. In addition, they held a round table with experts on the future of Mangulica farming. Adding to several published scientific articles, they also published a manual on this activity. All this is to lay good foundations for expanding production and have more people hear about this delicacy, which is highly valued globally.

Mangulica, the Worldwide trend

The relatively recent trend emphasizing healthy fats has opened up new potential on the market both globally and in Croatia. The president of the Mangulica Association, Tomislav Bišćan, explained why Mangulica is the fattiest pig in the world, with the healthiest fat in the world:

“In the United States, Mangulica meat is in great demand in restaurants that serve food according to slow food recipes. What’s more, they call it meat for the rich. In Spain, on the other hand, Mangulica prosciutto is known as a must-try. Here in Croatia, it is most famously prepared as Slavonian cured meat products. Mangulica has high-quality meat that stands out for its taste and softness. The composition of fatty acids influences fat quality, mainly the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids and the so-called healthy cholesterol (LDL cholesterol); it is the only animal that contains it in its meat”, explains Bišćan.

In general, there is a “shortage” of its products worldwide. Mangulica is a pig that cannot be raised in large quantities. In Croatia, getting the product is even more difficult because farming is in its infancy. Very few members have managed to reach the stage of meat processing. Bacon and ham stand out as the best products.

A few families, members of the Mangulica Farmers Association, now lead the production of Mangulica meat products. They also enjoy the beauty of life in a rural area, which, as they say, despite some shortcomings, has great benefits. Thus, their children learn from a young age about breeding and agriculture, the entire process.

“Mangulica is a fantastic gastronomic base for rural tourism due to its high quality and worldwide popularity,” said Tomislav Bišćan, inviting all interested potential farmers to take the plunge and connect.

Special Kind

The Slavonian Mangulica is a traditional, indigenous pig breed in Croatia. After stagnation and decline of breeding and production, a bright future can be seen for the survival of this breed. Numerous activities of the Mangulica Association contribute to this. Another is the Breeding Handbook written by Associate Professor. Ph.D. Vladimir Margeta.

“The manual for Mangulica breeders has been conceptualized in such a way as to provide each current or potential breeder with sufficient information about the breed as well as the method of breeding. The manual begins with the history of the breed’s origin and its development over the past 150 years”. It then lays down the breeding process, including its main features and conditions. It further explains the properties of the meat. Finally, it provides an overview of all the measures and regulations for breeding.

“Due to its anatomical and physiological specificities (suitable for keeping outdoors) and the exceptional quality of meat and fat, it is an ideal animal to keep on family farms,” said Vladimir Margeta. He added that the region’s pig farming tradition is a good starting point. So are the population’s eating habits and local farmers’ skills in producing and processing high-quality cured meat products. The favourable climate and availability of quality food make continental Croatia an ideal environment for Mangulica breeding. For it to be profitable and successful, producers must unite and produce traditional products”.

MANGULICA Nutritional Value

Although fats can be discussed in terms of their benefit or harm to human health, Margeta states that there is no room for any doubts:

“Today, healthy fats, such as Mangulica meat, are increasingly popular among the public. Mangulica fat has a high proportion of so-called healthy relative to bad cholesterol. Nowadays, Mngulica is often said to be the fattiest pig in the world, but it has the healthiest fat in the world. The fat content and the profile of fatty acids result in a high degree of softness and juiciness of the meat. Since the tastiness of the meat depends on the fat content and structure, we can rightly say that Mangulica meat belongs to the most delicious types of meat in general”, explained Vladimir Margeta, who adds as consumers in developed countries recognize the nutritional value of Mangulica so that today it is a world brand. Some of the highest quality and most expensive pork products today are made from Mangulica.

All in all, we believe that more and more will be heard about Slavonian Mangulica in the years to come. Not only in Croatia, but the products from this pig will become one of the recognizable food brands for which Croatia will be known worldwide among all lovers of authentic, natural, healthy, and high-quality food.

Operetta in honor of mangulica

The famous composer Johann Strauss also found inspiration in Mangulica when composing an operetta

“Gypsy Baron”:

For my formal education 

Was of but brief duration. 

My penmanship was frightful; 

My alphabet was stifled.

From farmers I’m descended. 

My lot was not intended 

For wearing lovely finery. 

The Prince of Swinery.

So, the only goal I have in life Is changing pigs to sausages, 

And thus I take my trusty knife 

To cut a ham or hock or chops. 

From what is left… there’s sausages!

I studied means of makin’ 

Fat pigs into fat bacon. 

They eat a lot, I grant you. 

But profits are substantial.

The Driving Force of a Monarchy

Mangulica is a pig created in the middle of the 19th century by crossing the Szalonta and Bakony breeds with the wild boar and the Šumadinka pig. Its main visual characteristic is its thick, bristly coat that resembles a sheep. The actual origin of this breed is Hungary. At the end of the last century, this breed almost died out, and by 1991 there were only 200 pigs of this breed in Hungary! This pig was also the driving machinery of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy that supplied workers and soldiers of the monarchy…


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