We reject, they accept

The parts of a chicken that Indians throw away are a culinary delicacy in the Far East. Chicken kidney, neck, wing tips and feet are in great demand in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. In fact, 25 tonnes of chicken feet are exported every month from Mangalore to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The proprietors of Souza Hatcheries, one of the largest suppliers of poultry in the coastal region, had not the slightest inkling that the throwaway waste in their farms could be a coveted delicacy abroad, when they started poultry business way back in 1988 in Mangalore.

It all started when they started a website (www.souzahatch.com) in 2005-06, when bird flu hit the region.

“We started receiving enquiries about chicken feet. However, it was three years later that a potential buyer, an Indian based in China, visited our firm to give details on technical know-how,” recalls Souza Hatcheries Managing Partner Lester D’Souza.

The first consignment of 25 tonnes of chicken feet was shipped to Vietnam in September 2009. The first shipment was followed by two more consignments of 25 tonnes each to Hong Kong in November and December. Later on, the consignments were sent to China.

Only 15 to 20 per cent of the chicken feet are collected from Souza outlets while the remaining 80 per cent are bought from other shops in Mangalore, Puttur, Udupi and Manipal among other places. Even if you have 50 containers (25 tonne each), there are buyers, D’Souza said, adding that he would not contact any buyer unless he has at least 20 tonnes of chicken feet.

Strict set of standards

The feet have to reach the freezer in Baikampady within four to five hours after cleaning and grading.

“There is a strict standard to be followed lest the consignment is rejected,” he says. However, chefs at Hao Ming, the popular Chinese restaurant in Mangalore, said that though they know how to make delicacies of chicken feet, they don’t, as Mangaloreans (or Indians) do not prefer them.

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