Jamón ibérico de bellota, one of Spain’s top delicacies, is made from free-range Ibérico pigs that graze on dehesas and feed on acorns. Until now, these pigs had been raised exclusively in Spain, but two Spanish entrepreneurs decided to make a move and start breeding Ibérico pigs in Texas.
The entrepeneurs, Sergio Marsal and Manuel Murga, from Seville, attracted a $3 million investment to send 145 sows and five Ibérico boars to a ranch in Texas and founded Acornseekers, an ibérico ham producer in the US.
Now numbering 3,000, these expensive and time-consuming animals graze freely on acorns in the winter oak belt that stretches from Jacksonville, Florida, to California.
Getting Ibérico pigs to the US from Spain, alive or otherwise, has proved a long and complicated business. After years of struggling with red tape, Embutidos Fermín was the first company to manage the sale of cured bellota ham in the States in 2007.
Now Murga and Marsal have faced down Spanish bureaucracy – the main obstacle – to bring Americans the source of the product.
Having raised the $2 million required to build a ham curing facility, Acornseekers hopes to be selling its first legs of ham in America by 2018 for an eye-watering $1,000 a piece – three times what they sell for in Spain.
As reported in El País.