Updated: May 7
Linda and Ian from Havoc Farm explain what makes 100% New Zealand bacon so special and how to be sure that you're buying the real deal.
Ian and Linda Jackson have owned Havoc Farm Pork, for the past 20 years. Their paradise for pigs, which lies nestled at the foot of South Canterbury's Hunters Hills, produces a range of free-farmed deliciousness, from juicy sausages and dry-cured bacon to traditional cuts, such as fillets and pork belly.
"It still makes both our hearts jump for joy when we see our pigs in the field in the morning and some nights go to sleep with the sound of them snoring in the paddock next to our bedroom window."
Sadly, over the past two decades, they have seen the number of New Zealand pig farmers plummet from 1200 to around 100, while cheap imported product floods the market. Around 60 percent of the bacon, ham and other small goods products on New Zealand shelves is made from imported pork.
1. Why do we import pork and bacon when it is made right here in New Zealand? Surely we have enough space?
Unfortunately, New Zealand has become a dumping ground for overseas pork. Most other countries have some sort of subsidy for pig farmers (from grain, to freight to price fixing) which we don't have. That keeps the price of imported pork artificially low.
Sadly, the animal welfare standards of most of the countries that New Zealand imports pork from are well below those that are in place here. You can’t be sure of the conditions the pigs have been living in or even where they have come from (a lot of pork is being funnelled through Spain for example. It might be labelled as coming from Spain but it could be from any number of other countries).
2. How can we be sure that we're buying New Zealand grown?
Frankly, we believe that people should ask and if they cannot be assured of where their bacon came from (we mean the basic ingredient - pork) then they should reject it and not buy it.
Wow, we have been banging this drum for such a long time!
There is so much misinformation out there about the provenance of pork. Consumers have been manipulated, lied to and treated as mushrooms for far too long. We have just gone through a year of rigorous testing of our product by Oritain. This is genetic fingerprinting, which allows meat to be tracked back to its source. We now have a fingerprint of our farm so can test any suspect product that might be masquerading as having come from here. Of course, we also proudly announce on our Havoc label that products are made with 100% New Zealand pork. The Pork Industry Board (NZ Pork) does have a PigCare label, which reads ‘Born and Raised in New Zealand’ but as this can be put on indoor raised pork we have decided not to be involved with it.
3. What are the benefits of buying New Zealand bacon, made from 100% New Zealand pork?
It is made in New Zealand and if done properly will keep the skills developed by Kiwi butchers - which have been honed over hundreds of years - alive and well. It keeps Kiwis in jobs, from the abattoirs and butchers to farmers. When we started the business, there were 1200 pig farmers in New Zealand and now there are around 100. It would be a tragedy to lose that talent and passion.
And of course due to the small distance travelled, a pure New Zealand product should be of a superior nature and taste much better than something that has flown thousands of miles.
If people only purchased New Zealand grown pork then we are confident that New Zealand pig farmers would quickly rise to the challenge and manage to meet the full needs of the New Zealand market, which would mean no need for imports.
4. Where does your pork come from?
Havoc pork comes from our family farm at Hunter in South Canterbury where all of our pigs are outdoors.
5. Where is the bacon made and is there anything special about the process?
Our bacon is made by our artisan butchers at our premises in Kaikorai Valley Road, in Dunedin. All of our bacon is dry cured and has been ever since we started in business. We were told by people in the industry when we started 20 years ago that if we dry cured bacon we would be out of business within six months - because we weren't adding weight to the product. Well, we do not add water to our product and we are still here 20 years later. It's all in the taste.
6. What inspired you to start Havoc Farm? It started when Linda met Ian who at the time was producing weaner pigs to sell to another pig farmer. This farmer was contracted to a large pork brand. She went with Ian when he took his weaners to this man. She watched them come off the truck - bonny pigs weighing about 18kg from Ian and skinny small ones about half this weight from another weaner producer. She naively asked how shoppers would know that they were buying Ian’s pigs. The answer was a flat, “They wouldn’t.”
So, a week later over dinner and a bottle of red, the business plan for Havoc was born. We have lived and breathed this plan for the last 20 years. It still makes both our hearts jump for joy when we see our pigs in the paddock in the morning and some nights go to sleep with the sound of them snoring in the paddock next to our bedroom window. Ian was born to be a pig farmer. Linda came to it later in life but makes up for it with the enthusiasm of a convert.
7. What is your favourite way to use the bacon that you produce? Golly, we use bacon in so many things! You don't have to use a lot of our bacon to give a dish a great flavour. We supply bacon pieces and bacon mince, which we use in stews, pasta dishes, chilli, bacon balls, scones, soups, muffins and lots of other things that just benefit from a small handful of bacon bits added. Ian's favourite is just bacon (the fatter the better for him) cooked in a pan with eggs and tomatoes or baked beans and then bread cooked in the bacon fat. 8. Where/how can Kiwis buy bacon from Havoc Farm? If you are in the North Island, you can purchase through Gourmet Direct and in the South Island, orders can be placed by phone or e-mail - havocfarmpork.co.nz or phone (03) 488 1389 for contactless delivery around Dunedin. Havoc product is also in Raeward Fresh, Queenstown, Tower Junction, Herewood and selected New World stores.