The journey from the farm to your plate is a long one so you don’t want to take chances by choosing the wrong kind of meat that will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Pigzee’s was opened with the sole aim to ensure Guwahatians are never short of safe, affordable and high-quality meat. Although their speciality is pork, Pigzee’s offers different kinds of meat, making it a food paradise for meat lovers.
Established on 20th February 2015, Pigzee’s was built brick by brick by Vishwaman Rai and Manas Kalita from Guwahati. To ensure Pigzee’s success, they made sure their farm ‘ M/s Sayuri Farms’ could fuel the stores with good quality meat. ‘Farming is actually the most important aspect because without farming and the backend products, there would be no Pigzee’s,’ Kalita informed.
Currently with two outlets in the city, it is one of the first companies from the Northeast dealing in cold cuts and gourmet meat. To add to that, they occasionally keep fresh stocks of duck and turkey meat too.
Their freezers are heaped with a wide range of frozen food products such as country style sausages, salami, ham, frankfurters, and bacon, along with the local favourite – pork pickles. Pigzee’s started with the vital aim of promoting locally sourced farm-fresh meat. ‘Our main objective is hygienic meat. Although meat is widely eaten here, the problem is that nobody thinks about the hygiene factor. The slaughtering process, mainly in roadside stalls, and the need for refrigeration to prevent bacterial growth is generally ignored. But people consume it and we are actually safe because we boil our food. But if we eat it in the European style, we will be prone to diseases,’ revealed Kalita. ‘Since we had our farm, we thought why not apply the farm-to-fork concept. Also, the concept of a hygienic retail meat store was new in the Northeast.’
Introducing a New Concept
But being one of the firsts to introduce this new concept in the market came with a price. ‘It was quite difficult in the beginning because nobody knew much about a meat store. They assumed it would be expensive, or the meat will have chemicals. The refrigerators made them think that we were selling stale meat. They were habituated to buying meat from roadside meat stalls. But slowly and steadily, we started getting regular customers who understand the hygiene factor.’
Pigzee’s started out with pork and chicken meat, from which they have branched out to experiment with different types and styles of products and flavours. Their stores sell raw chicken and pork meat, along with sausages along two lines: their chicken line, branded as Sayuri Farms and their pork line branded as Pigzee’s. ‘When we were working on the store, we were also making sausages back home, trying and testing for one year. We did our research. My wife, who is a microbiologist and nutritionist, worked on the basic structure, the pH level and all,’ Kalita revealed.
The chicken sausage line consists of chicken cheese sausages, chicken Italian sausages, chicken plain sausages, and a newly added flavour, chili chicken. The pork line consists pork cocktail sausages, pork smoked sausages, pork frankfurters, and a new local flavour of pork with bamboo shoot and ghost pepper. They also sell minced meat, sliced meat, bacon, burger patties, pork ribs, pork belly, pork ham, pickles and much more. Their country style sausages are favourites among customers. ‘Our country style sausages have a high meat percentage, almost 90% and we do not use any chemical preservatives.’
For the ease of the customers, the skilled butchers at the retail outlets help customers find the meat they want, cut it according to their requirement, and also help them buy seasonings and sides to go with the meat. The store also offers free of cost home delivery services for nearby customers, and for far away customers in case of large orders or if they agree to pay a small amount for transportation costs.
Boost for Local Piggeries
Little known fact is that Pigzee’s has an extensive association with NEPPFA (North East Progressive Pig Farmers Association) and ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) National Research Centre on pigs. They were even invited to represent the Northeast in the Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship held on March 2018 at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. Being a Secretary of NEPPFA, Kalita explained the main aim of their association, ‘Our aim is to get people into commercial piggery. People in the Northeast are rearing pigs, but they are doing it in a backyard way. We are not open to the concept of commercial piggery, wherein with the help of proper feed and proper breeding, pigs can be raised to 100 kilos in 6-7 months! Northeast is the highest market (for pork). So much so that everyone in UP, Haryana, Punjab are setting up farms aiming to sell their products in the Northeast. So why should we not start manufacturing ourselves? We want to make Northeast pork a global brand.’
With regards to distribution, Pigzee’s channels run wide and deep. They distribute products to Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur. In Guwahati, their specialized products are in high demand. They supply meat to various hotels and restaurants like Ziya, Taj Vivanta, Radisson Blu, Novotel, and Mocha Café.
The Road Ahead
Looking at the future of the brand, Kalita shared, ‘We have a plan to open around 10 stores in Guwahati by 2019. We even got offers to open in Meghalaya and elsewhere as well, but first, we want our backend to be strong. As for the Northeast, commercial piggery in coming up in a huge way. Now there will be traceability, and we will be able to tell which farm the animal comes from and how it was bred. People are more aware about hygiene, meat and taste. I don’t know if we can call ourselves as pioneers, but we have been educating people and working on a business model that is working. People now want to go to a meat store and buy meat rather than buying from roadside stalls, and that’s the future I think.’
Pigzee’s is a brand of a new kind, and importantly, it’s from the Northeast. Muhtar Kent had once said, ‘A brand is a promise and a good brand is a promise kept’, and Pigzee’s is most definitely a promise for change, a tasty one at that.