Inside Facebook’s Underground Meat Market

A dry aged Wagyu steak Shutterstock

Where’s the beef? Facebook, apparently.

People have been using the social media site to “gamble” on high-end food items — including A5 Wagyu, stone crabs and in one case, a whole Spanish octopus.

The online meat market was profiled in a recent article by Mel Magazine. It is made up of private, invite-only FB groups — where users can place bids on delicacies from across the globe.

The system is pretty simple: Someone will post about a certain product and see if people are interested in buying it. Using a “razzle” raffle format, the seller will then obtain bids from people until they reach the amount they want to sell the item for.

The most popular type of razzle, according to Mel Magazine, is the Illinois Pick 3 Plus Fireball Lottery aka “Fireball.” Every day, officials draw four numbers and the last one — which is between zero and nine — is used to select a winner.

For the FB groups, most sellers select one of nine numbers, with spots ranging between $20-$25 and sometimes higher. A user could claim all of the spots and buy the item upfront if they want, according to Mel, and there can also be more than nine spots available for purchase depending on how much the seller is looking for. A random number generator is used to select a winner.

One person, identified simply as Gary, told the magazine he had “easily” spent more than $1,000 gambling on meat.

“I deleted about 30 groups last week because all of my Facebook has turned into some kind of gambling group,” he said, noting how there’s also countless pages where people sell alcohol, collectibles and other hard-to-get goods.

“I’m in beer groups, wine groups, cigar groups — you name it, people like to razzle on it.”

Mel described one razzle where users had a 1-in-10 chance of snagging a rare 6-to-8-pound octopus that was caught off the coast of Spain for just $25 a bid. The post was accompanied by a stock image of a charred tentacle.

Psychology experts believe part of the hype is having a chance to scoop up an item that most users wouldn’t have access to — or afford, for that matter.

“The forbidden has always had an allure, whether there’s a rule against it or it’s something really exclusive,” said Art Markman, a psychology professor at the University of Texas.

“Partly, we’re intrigued by why there are rules around things, why there are limitations,” he explained

“We have this belief that people have access to stuff that we don’t. And we want to feel like we have info other people don’t have. These kinds of gray-market products have the same kind of appeal. It’s having this experience that isn’t available to just anyone. Paying a little extra to say you did this thing that most people can’t do creates the same sense of luxury, which in the moment feels pretty great.”

Author: Chris Perez

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