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Pamora Farm: Spotting an unserved market

Going free-range is the way to go.
By Entrepreneur Staff |
Pamora Farm: Spotting an unserved market

The concept of free-range farming is easy to digest: it’s a method of raising animals where they are permitted to roam freely in areas containing insects, plants, fruits, and other food sources. This way, the animals—in this case, the chickens—are able to live out their instinctual behaviors instead of spending their entire life housed in an overcrowded cage like most commercial poultry farming methods. The result is a happier and healthier chicken.

[related|post]And a happy chicken is a better-tasting one with better meat quality that’s low in fat and water content, and is free from chemical preservatives and antibiotics. And they’re cute too.

Started in 2000 by Tina Morados-Papillon, 34, and her French husband, Gérard Papillon, 67, Pamora Farm, aside from being a product of their of their surnames, was also a product of spotting an unserved market. “I was reading the newspaper when I saw an ad for a seminar on SASSO free-range chickens,” recalls Gérard. “I thought, ‘There’s something wrong here because SASSO is not a breed of chicken, but a company that breeds chickens.’” Born and raised in a farm in the southern province of Burgundy, France, and settled in the Philippines in 1980 doing construction projects, Gérard knew three things well: wine, construction, and poultry. “So I sent Tina to the seminar to see what it was all about.”

She later returned with kindled interest. “I knew we could raise chickens,” Tina recalls. With a desire to provide an alternative albeit small source of additional income for her parents living in the small town of Pidigan in the northern province of Abra, the Papillons bought 500 French brown chicks at P35 each from the late Bobby Inocencio of A.P. Inocencio Farms in Teresa, Rizal. And on a 1,000-sq m property owned by her parents, Tina’s family, together with Gérard, began raising free-range chickens in their backyard.

Three months passed and, just like the story, it soon was time to take the now fully-grown chickens to the market. “We brought them to Bangued (the capital of Abra),” but the people’s response wasn’t as enthusiastic as they had hoped. The problem? “The chicken was too big, so nobody wanted to buy them,” says Gérard. “We wondered, ‘what do we do now?’”

As a member of the French Chamber of Commerce, Gérard would regularly attend a monthly lunch with his fellow members at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila in Makati. “Tina and I decided that in the next lunch, we would offer our chickens to Chef Cyrille (Soenen),” who was then the executive chef of Prince Albert Rotisserie at the Intercon and a fellow Frenchman.

“I asked him how many chickens he needed,” recalls Gérard. “He said if it’s four people to one chicken, he’d need 20 chickens for his 80 guests.” The day of the lunch arrived and Gérard gave the chef 40 dressed chickens. “(Chef Cyrille) said it was too much, but we told him to just go ahead and prepare everything.”

And when the plates were cleared, wine bottles emptied, and the guests had their fill, all that was left of the 40 chickens was a pile of bones. “And the next day, people started to call us asking where they could find our chickens,” says Gérard. “We said, ‘nowhere,’ as we didn’t do it commercially.” Still, people insisted on trying their chickens so they soon started to deliver two to four of their dressed chickens to clients mostly in the Makati area. “Back then,” recalls Tina, “we were simply dressing the chickens in Abra, in a small room with a small plucking machine that can do four chickens at the same time and a chest freezer to store them.”

In the beginning, Pamora would produce 200 dressed chickens a month. And after two years of small-scale farming operations, requests for their dressed chickens continued to come in. According to Gérard, “Everything really started in 2002 when we started to deliver 100 to 200 chickens per month to (gourmet stores) Santi’s Delicatessen and Terry’s Selection.” Combined, the two had more 10 outlets all over the metro.

And last year, after celebrating 10 years in the free-range poultry business, building a new and bigger dressing plant through a loan from the Agricultural Competitiveness Fund of the Department of Agriculture (DA), expanding the farm to more than four hectares, and receiving the double “A” category from the National Meat Inspection Service which means they have the license to distribute all over the Philippines, Pamora Farm was able to increase its production capacity to 3,000 dressed chickens a month.

Next Page: Making Happy Chickens


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