Marc Zabern and his father, Master of Meats Wilhelm Zabern, moved to New Zealand 30 years ago. Wilhelm, a Master Butcher from Austria had a vision to create beautiful New Zealand meat products and thus, Zaroa NZ was born.
Starting off with sausages and fresh salami, the brand wanted to move away from pork, and so their Master Crafted Artisan Meat products are made from 100% grass fed, free-range New Zealand beef, lamb, and venison, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for this Kiwi start-up.
After helping design an export standards facility to process their products, and getting certified with MPI, Zaroa was ready with its first shipment of 18-hour Sous Vide brisket for Farro Fresh when their factory broke down, half a ton of product had to be thrown out. Then, there was COVID.
None of these obstacles have stopped Zaroa, however, and they now have three products in Farro Fresh where they are building brand recognition through in-store demonstrations.
Working on New Zealand's oldest organic farm in Shelly Beach, Kaipara Heads, Zaroa’s meat products are naturally processed, clean label meats that are Halal suitable. They have created a range of specialty sausages, salamis, air-dried and fermented products, including a range of Sous Vide cooked roasts and meals that emphasise health and well-being.
“We had to educate people about Sous Vide cooking, most people know of it as boil in a bag, we think of it as simmer in a bag. We consider our products ready to eat, ready to heat meat, it’s all about convenience with a high-quality product,” noted Marc.
Now they have customers coming back every week for the same product with orders coming in online from as far south as Riverton, and the brand has become a staple at the Parnell Farmer’s market.
“That’s where we like to test out new products because we get an instant reaction from consumers. We want to create something beautiful.”
The pandemic-inspired consumer trend of trying new cooking styles at home is what Zaroa initially tapped into, however the ease of application has made their products popular in foodservice and hospitality alike.
“Chefs are using the Sous Vide products for sandwiches and subs, the convenience is very appealing,” explained Marc.
“Taking the time and labour out of something like an 18-hour, slow cooked brisket frees a chef to focus on other things while still getting a restaurant quality product.”
Top Chef’s like Simon Gault have jumped on the Zaroa band-wagon, with Gault selling Zaroa products through his Takanini store, Gault’s Deli.
Zaroa have also had success creating charcuterie boards for restaurants, telling a truly New Zealand story through the meats they use. The beef is from Kaipara, Venison from Wanaka, and Black Origin Wagyu from Christchurch.
“We like to work with the farmers and have that farm to plate traceability. It’s really important to us to know where the meat is coming from and have chefs share that story with their customers.”
Zaroa don’t do artificial. Their products contain no sodium nitrates, no gluten, no soy, and they don’t use pork. They have also been taking home multiple accolades including being a finalist in the Inspire+ NZ Artisan Awards 2020, Gold at the Outstanding Food Producer Awards in 2020 with the Champion Award for Free-From, and Golds at the Outstanding Food Producer Awards 2021 for their Black Origin Wagyu Salami, their Venison Savernaccio.
The next step for the business is to prepare for export, looking at key markets in Australia, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
“We simply want to be New Zealand’s finest, highest-quality meat product business.”