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After more than 20 years of makin’ bacon, Trunkey’s Zanzie and Fred want to hit the road

July 12, 2022

Digitally altered. Looney Tunes/Trunkey Bacon & Pork.

By Peter Holmes

Zanzie and Fred D’Souza have put their famed Trunkey Bacon & Pork business on the market.


As newlyweds in the early 1990s, Fred and Zanzie moved from the Blue Mountains to a farm at Trunkey Creek, about 70km southeast of Orange.



Soon a pig named Mary had joined the couple at the farm. Mary had piglets. In the years that followed the D'Souzas built a fully operational piggery on the farm.




While Fred - a fitter by trade - worked extended shifts at the pet food factory in Blayney, Zanzie took charge at home, including feeding the pigs twice daily - even when she was eight months’ pregnant with their first daughter Rebecca.


Drought in the early 2000s saw them diversify as a way to add value to the pigs. They went into debt to buy the equipment needed to make bacon and hams. And so Trunkey Bacon and Pork was born.



Zanzie and her mum Raewyn started out selling at a few markets.


The business in Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Fred would stay home with their young daughters Rebecca and Lauren, and Zanzie and Raewyn would head to Sydney to sell their products.


In later years Rebecca and her partner Brenton would go on to join the business, though they don't work there anymore.

Trunkey Bacon & Pork sells all fresh pork products, double smoked hams and bacon, pancetta, porchetta, salamis, English gammon, American streaky bacon, pulled pork pies, nitrite-free bacon, English pork sausages, speck and kessler.





Fred and Zanzie still run a stall at North Sydney markets, while many locals can be seen following their noses towards the piles of hot bacon on the grill at the Trunkey stall at Orange Farmers Market.



The D’Souzas haven't run Trunkey Creek as a piggery for years.


These days they buy the pigs from Australian producers who do not use any hormone or antibiotic treatments.



Zanzie and Raewyn. Facebook.


Now, however, it is time to sell the business and enjoy retirement.

The Orange News Examiner spoke with Zanzie D’Souza.


Do you still live at Trunkey Creek?


Yep.


But no pigs?


No, we’ve got another farm closer to Orange. It had pigs up until late last year. We’re just focusing on selling the business now.





It’s been a huge part of your life for more than 20 years - are you sad?

Yeah, I’m going to miss the customers. A lot of our customers we’ve known for the 22 years and we've been making our products for them. It will be sad.


Was the decision to sell a long time coming, or did something in particular happen that made you realise it was time?
It’s been a process. We thought about it about five years ago - we put it on the market, but we were selling it for the wrong reason, so we decided to take it off the market and stop being silly!
We do love the business and it's a really profitable business. It was mainly Covid, it made you think we’re not invincible anymore.

How has the business done through Covid?

The business thrived because we did home deliveries.

[But] my husband’s turned 62 and he wanted to retire while we’re still healthy, do you know what I mean? Friends around us have gotten sick or they’ve lost their partners around our age. Those kinds of things made us make our decision.


Zanzie and Fred outside the shop. Facebook.



Supermarket bacon can be quite watery and low on flavour - what do you do differently?

We smoke it the old-fashioned way. When you buy some of the supermarket bacon it can be [made with] liquid smoke, which is awful. We use wood chips and smoke ovens. You lose weight [during cooking] because we smoke it properly. The fact that it's not mass produced has a lot to do with it, too.



You slice it nice and fine.

We like it thin, but we do thicker bacon too.

Have you and Fred managed to avoid Covid?

Yes we have. Touch wood. That’s what we’re scared of. We’re going for our fourth shot.

How many staff do you need to run the business?

I would say three. There’s Fred and I. Fred does the running around, deliveries, and he’s my fix-it man. I don’t start until 8 or 9 o'clock [in the morning] and I leave by two or three o’clock. I’ve got a full-time butcher and then a part-time bloke who comes in two days a week to help me.

What is delivered to the processing site? Is it a whole pig?
Yep, we get whole pigs in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, depending on what we need.

The sale listing says there is room to employ a manager. So it doesn’t need to be a couple taking over?

Yeah definitely. Fred doesn’t do a lot of hands-on work. I do it because I enjoy it and I’m a bit of a control freak. I really do enjoy it. And I love the markets, that's my favourite part.


Your mum Raewyn doesn’t do the markets anymore?

No, Covid scared her. She’s 75. She hasn't done the markets for the last two and half years.

If you really don't want to do the markets, or as many as we do, the shop sits here. You could do so much more through the shop.

We chose not to open the shop [full-time]. We open it from about October, November on, and we kill it. But if you had a manager that’s what they would concentrate on doing - just getting more money through the shop.


Is it hard to remain enthusiastic and innovative when you’ve been doing something for so long?

No. I actually enjoy it. I get tired, sometimes I don’t want to think for everyone.


A Trunkey bacon and egg roll. Facebook.

You had hoped to keep the business in the family, but that’s not going to happen?

It’s sad. You really have got to have a passion for it. I think the main reason my daughter [Rebecca] left was she’d done it too long, from the age of three or four.

To get our name out there we used to do three or four markets every weekend, and then come back and work five days in the shop.


We did that for a good five years or more, just to get our name out there. You had to show people they could trust us.

Are you from Orange?
We are from the Mountains. Fred’s a fitter by trade and he worked at Friskies for years, then [one day] we just decided, you know what, we’re going to try making some bacon.
We did it in a little smokehouse out the back of the house, just for the family; it used to go alright, then in 2000 we bought an oven that still goes well.

How long would it take someone with a passion for small goods but no experience in that field to learn how to run the business?

All the mistakes have been taken out of it. I've got all the recipes for everything we do, how long you smoke for, the timings in the ovens, it wouldn't take long.


Have you got a rough timeline for when you’d ideally like to have the sale sorted?

We’re going to wait and see. The business is coming into its most profitable time now - Christmas. Christmas time is when you make your money. For those six weeks up to Christmas you concentrate on the shop.

We’re ready to retire. We bought a caravan mid-Covid and I want to go and use it!


 

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