By Theresa Goodwin
Making a household name from themselves in the local poultry industry has not been without its share of challenges, but the husband and wife team of Marlon and Tavia Hunte remains committed as they continue to focus on the future growth of Hunte Chicken Farm.
Many residents would be quite familiar with Tavia Hunte, a pioneer in the field of dance through the Shiva’s School of Dance which has produced a number of top names in the artform.
Marlon, her husband, is a refrigeration technician by profession. However, both were forced to change course when Covid-19 breached the shores of Antigua and Barbuda in March, causing a sharp rise in unemployment.
This led the Huntes to venture into poultry farming where they raise and prepare hormone-free broilers for the local market.
Customers have the choice of ordering their chickens fresh, seasoned with their special blend of herbs and spices, or their famous smoked chicken which is served with their signature Hunte’s sauce.
Yesterday, the couple told Observer that the public is warming up to the idea of consuming the hormone-free poultry that is offered by the farm.
The only two drawbacks they have experienced, so far, are the lukewarm responses from some supermarkets when they are approached to becoming potential outlets, and the cost associated with shipping the hatchlings from Barbados to Antigua.
“One woman told me that Antiguans were not interested in buying local poultry which is more expensive when compared to the cost of the ones already being sold on the shelves,” Tavia said yesterday.
“When consumers are accustomed to getting a tray for about $20 or less and compared to a whole chicken for $18 at minimum, they do not see that as a better deal. I think if we educate our consumers, they will eventually realize they are getting a better quality,” she added.
Meanwhile, Marlon added the cost associated with shipping the baby chickens from Barbados is around US $1 each.
He also said sourcing them from the United States and other places will also be costly.
The couple hopes that over time they could partner with others in the industry to establish a facility in Antigua where the birds could be sourced, thus eliminating the import cost.
The newly minted poultry farmers also hoping acquire land to relocate the chicken farm in the near future are.
Hunte Chicken Farm is located in Swetes Village.