Artisanal meats make waves in local market
Mike Mckenzie's recipe for good business and meat processing has made Seed to Sausage a huge success
By Jeanine Moyer
Sharbot Lake, Ont. – Five years ago, Mike Mckenzie set out to make delicious food.
His distinguished taste for salami and smoked meats, combined with his drive to acquire meat-making skills led to the creation of Seed to Sausage, a meat processing, retail and distribution company in Sharbot Lake, a small Frontenac County village north of Kingston.
Mckenzie follows his own suite of guidelines – to make the most delicious food he can, prioritize quality and consistency, source certified humanely raised meat and local products, and use as few additives as possible. These business and product requirements have quickly become the recipe to success for Seed to Sausage.
Building the business took time. Before settling in Eastern Ontario, Mckenzie’s travels and love of meat saw him sampling salami wherever he went, refining his taste and preferences.
“After moving to Ontario and realizing no one was making good salami in our area, I saw an opportunity,” Mckenzie said. “I’m self-taught with lots of trial and error and I’m happy to learn from others. We now make 58 different products and are creating one or two new products weekly. My goal is to make unique and delicious meats.”
Running a business was a steep learning curve though. He started by buying an abattoir to process meats, where food safety and regulations soon became part of his day to day operations.
Today, Mckenzie has grown the Eastern Ontario company to become the chosen supplier for restaurants in Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston. Seed to Sausage meats are also served up at Rideau Hall and the House of Commons.
For large retail buyers, tiny private establishments and loyal local customers, Mckenzie, his family and staff of 23 offer products that range from old fashioned hickory smoked bacon and chorizo to apple sage sausages and duck prosciutto.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around how far we have gotten today,” he said, surprised by Seed to Sausage’s success.
He works hard to balance work with the needs of a young family, and like many entrepreneurs, has lost a lot of sleep over the business.
“I want customers to be happy and complaints keep me up at night,” he admitted.
“I’ve learned the opportunities are endless in this business,” Mckenzie added. “Right from the beginning, I’d get excited about a new customer or opportunity and then be surprised when another came right along.”
In addition to a store at the company’s butcher shop and an Ottawa retail store, Seed to Sausage retail products are also sold to specialty and local food shops in Ottawa and Kingston.
Check out seedtosausage.ca for more information.