The owners of Pure Mangalitsa, Marc Santucci and Wilhelm Kohl, were also shareholders in Earthy Delights, a distributor of specialty foods to fine dining restaurants and consumers of fine food. In the summer of 2008 during the time of the financial crisis sales at fine dining restaurants were declining precipitously. Earthy Delights was looking for new products to sell to existing customers and those customers were looking for new and exciting items for their menus. One area which seemed to offer a lot of potential was specialty meats.
A search was conducted and we identified the Mangalitsa pig as having good potential for fine dining restaurants. The Mangalitsa pig, also known as the “KOBE BEEF OF PORK”, and famous for its incredible white lard for baking, had been undergoing a renaissance in Europe over the previous twenty years, it was almost unknown in the US. Only one company had imported these pigs into the US from Austria, and it was still in the early stages of growing its herd.
Marc had started to raise feeder pigs in early 2008, and Wilhelm suggested that a business based on total reliance on one supplier could not work. So Wilhelm visited the Wiesners and some other breeders of Mangalitsas in Austria and Hungary in early 2009, but the importation of pigs from Europe was impossible at that time. Up to the summer of 2009, there was no protocol between the US and the EU for importing live pigs. However, one was being negotiated during this time, and as soon as it was possible again to import live pigs, Marc and Wilhelm decided to go to Austria to visit the Wiesners and see what it would take to import a few breeder pigs.
They visited Austria again in October 2009 and purchased six Blonde Mangalitsa pigs from Christoph and Isabell Wiesner’s company, Arche de Wiskentale, www.mangalitza.at and started the process to move them from Austria to the US. The plan was to have as wide a cross section of gene pool as possible. To accomplish this we had to wait until some piglets from different blood lines were born. After they were born and weaned they had to spend 60 days in quarantine in Austria and another 30 days in quarantine in New York.
Finally in March of 2010 the two little boars named Pavel & Pedro, and 4 gilts, named Klara, Helga, Rhonda and Laurie, were released and brought to two farms in Michigan. All six pigs took to their new surroundings and started doing what breeder pigs are supposed to do – produce more pigs.
The first litter of 7 little Blonde Mangalitsa piglets ever in Michigan was born on September 30, 2010, and many more litters have been born since then. The first herd of pure Blonde Mangalitsa pigs in the U.S. is growing and providing delicious pork.