By Violet Pereira, Team Mangalorean - Mangalore
Mangalore December 30, 2010: The New Mangalore Port, situated conveniently on the western coast of India, has made this city a prominent hub for export of goods and produce from Karnataka, especially for iron ore industry, oil, floriculture, or fertilizers. But one may be surprised to hear that this city also exports an average of over 12 tonnes of chicken feet every month to east Asian countries like China and Vietnam! Chicken feet which are considered a waste in Mangalorean households, have found a great demand in these fast East Asian countries.
Souza Chicken, one of the few prominent hatcheries in Mangalore, which also has its branches in Puttur, Hassan and Bantwal, is exporting almost 12 tonnes of chicken feet to China and the Far East every month, says its Managing Partner Lester DSouza.
Ever since its inception in 1988, the 'Souza Chicken' brand has become synonymous with nutrition, quality and high standards in hygiene. Ahead of the sustained investments that they have made in support of the brand, it has also made major investments in breeding technologies, hatching techniques, broiler management and processing, thereby enabling them to have complete control at every stage of broiler production. "We pride ourselves in the fact that ‘From the egg, to the chick, to the chicken’ nobody takes care like we do,” says D’Souza. Souza Chicken is still expanding and its business is built on customer service and quality. They are the largest suppliers of day-old chicks and broiler chicken in Mangalore, Udupi and Hassan.
He says the major target of its parent breeding operations is to make available to its customers and integrated broiler farmers with the greatest possible start to a healthy poultry flock. This process includes close monitoring of the parent flocks, screening of hatching eggs, maintaining optimum hatching conditions and working closely with the customers to give them nothing but the best-dressed chicken in town, he says. “Our pledge to superiority extends throughout the processing facility where quality control systems are quite simply outstanding. In the year 2002 we started our own broiler integration programme in 120 broiler farmers and our integrated contract farmers share our passion for excellence, that translates into progressive and value-based organizational dynamics,” he says.
Chicken feet, he says, are ideal for making stock because they are loaded with cartilage. When simmered, this cartilage dissolves and forms gelatin, which adds tremendous body to the stock. D'Souza proudly says that Souza Chicken has added one more feather in its cap by exporting frozen chicken feet to Hong Kong and Vietnam over the past one year. All this began when potential customers from Hong Kong approached them through their website www.souzahatch.com and expressed their interest in importing chicken feet. The dialogue continued between both parties and the buyers who came down to Mangalore showed the processing of rearing, selection, cleaning, packing and supplying the feet. “During the initial stage it took about 3 to 4 months to make one container ready,” he says. Each container contains 20 to 22 tons of chicken feet.
D’Souza says that they are exporting the containers of chicken feet in two types of packaging i.e Sacks and Cartons. Training to pack is a major task in this process. Every one or 2 months one container goes to China. The quantity depends on the breed of the chicken and size of its feet, he says. Broiler chicken feet are smaller in size and weigh less than tyson chicken feet which are heavier in weight. Sometimes the weight of one container can be as much as 23 tonnes, he adds.
Before exporting, chicken feet are neatly cut and cleaned without using any inorganic chemicals and are shipped out in freezer units while exporting to Hong Kong and Vietnam. In China Chicken feet are used as a delicacy, where they are often an option at dimsum restaurants, served as 'phoenix talons'.
Chicken feet are an integral part in Trinidadian, South African, Peruvian Philippines and Jamaican cuisine. Chicken feet are used as popular salad and appetizer too and mostly sold as street food by deep frying and seasoning with vinegar, fresh green pepper, mustard and crushed garlic. But consumption of chicken feet in Mangalore is very less. Most of the people here dispose of it as waste, says D’Souza.