Smoked Sausage Evolution
By Sam Gazdziak, Senior Editor
Manda Fine Meats evolves into a niche processor of smoked sausage.
Manda Fine Meats, Baton Rouge, LA
Plant size: 100,000 square feet in several facilities
Employees: 275
Regional distribution: Sausage products are distributed primarily in the southern United States, with deli products found in more than 35 states.
Three brothers founded Manda Brothers Provision Co. in 1947 as a wholesale distributor of everything from eggs to pork and beef. Now a meat processor, the company produces an estimated 30 million pounds of product annually. About half of that is smoked sausage. Manda Fine Meats is owned and operated by three grandsons of co-founder Vince Manda.
What types of products does Manda Fine Meats produce?
Bobby Yarborough, CEO: Manda Fine Meats is an industry leader in high-quality meats. We produce a tremendous variety of deli meats, including roast beef, ham, turkey, corned beef, and pastrami. Over the years, Manda’s true niche in the market has been — and will continue to be — our remarkable line of smoked sausages, whether it is our pure pork mild, hot, green onion, or garlic-flavored sausage. We also produce a pure beef sausage and many value-priced sausages featuring chicken and turkey.
How did the company go from a food distributor to a processor?
BY: The [founding] brothers experimented with their hog-head cheese recipe and quickly began selling the product at a high rate. When demand overpowered their ability to produce, they had to relocate the business to an old icehouse in Zachary, LA. They soon expanded their product line to include smoked sausage.
How has the company grown over the years?
BY: In 1987, all operations were moved to a 35,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art processing facility in Baton Rouge. The new expansion allowed on-site federal meat inspections, allowing Manda to cross state lines for the first time. Our product line grew to incorporate a full line of high-quality deli meats. This resulted in purchasing a facility in Baker, LA, to house production for hams, turkey breast, and hog-head cheese, leaving the Baton Rouge plant to solely produce smoked sausages.
We purchased Four Star Meats of Louisiana in 2001, giving us a full line of high-quality roast beef products. In 2003 we opened a 23,000-square-foot distribution facility in Baton Rouge. What differentiates your products from other sausage companies?
BY: Unlike other deli and meat items claiming to be “Cajun style,” Manda’s products are authentic. Our products are produced in Baton Rouge, LA, the center of Cajun Country. True Cajun spices and seasonings are hand-rubbed throughout the meat, not applied on just the outside of the product. This distinct flavor has proven to be a big seller in deli’s and supermarket smoked-meat departments across the U.S.
How do you market your product?
BY: Manda is active in the marketplace, utilizing demo programs at store level, and distributing coupons and product samples to customers. We also produce and sponsor ads in newspapers, radio, and television in the Gulf South states. Manda also sponsors many charitable foundations in and around our primary markets, and we are active with educational and athletic programs for many college, high school, and elementary school programs.
Do you see any trends in taste or marketing in your region?
BY: Our sausage products are marketed predominantly in the Southern United States, ranging from Texas to Florida, while our deli products are found in over 35 states. Smoked sausages are prevalent down South, compared to Northern states, which consume more bratwurst and Polish sausage. Our sausage sales are growing outside the South, though, with sales in Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa. asr