A controversial abattoir has been operating in the Sackville Industrial Park for nearly two months and a growing number of customers have been buying local meat in the butcher shop there.
“A lot of people, on Thursday, Friday nights, they want to come pick up a fresh steak for the barbecue,” says Jason Pennoyer who co-owns East Meats West Butchers, Inc. with Chris Pierce.
He adds that the meat they sell in their shop at 72 Crescent Street is raised by local farmers.
“It gives customers the option, instead of just taking what’s available at the grocery store, they can come in here and they can say, ‘Can you make me up four, one-inch, prime-rib steaks’ and we’ll go back in the cooler and we’ll cut it fresh right off the animal,” he says.
“We’re not looking at going large scale and supplying huge warehouses. We’re simply looking at how we best can serve the locals here in Sackville and the surrounding area.”
Pennoyer says the abattoir is licensed and inspected by the province and also operates under permits from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
So far, he says, it’s been slaughtering an average of about seven to eight beef cattle per week, but hopes to increase that number to two per day for a total of 10 each week.
The abattoir has also slaughtered pigs and can do lamb on request, he says.
It currently employs three workers besides Pennoyer and Pierce.
Pennoyer acknowledges the many concerns over the potential for smells and noise when local farmer and town employee Chris Pierce first applied for the municipal re-zoning needed for an abattoir in September 2020.
Sackville Town Council received 32 letters expressing strong opposition to the project and none in support.
But Pennoyer says he’s hoping people will support it now when they see how the business is run.
“We’ve been up and running for two months,” he says, “and there’s no smell and I would say that even in the summertime, there’s going to be no smell because we have to keep the internal temperature cool enough to keep the meat fresh and to keep bacteria from forming.”
He also explains that animal waste products are removed daily from the premises and sent off-site to their licensed disposal facility.
“It’s well away from any residential buildings or anybody who might possibly be concerned about odour or it leaching into waterways or wells.”
Pennoyer says people should feel free to visit the butcher shop and abattoir to see it for themselves.
“I’m more than happy to answer any questions anybody has and if we can, we can show them the facility,” he adds.
“I take pride in how clean we keep everything and it might put people at ease just coming in if they’re skeptical and taking a look.”
‘East meats West’
When asked how he and his business partner chose the name for their abattoir and butcher shop, Pennoyer replies that he grew up out west in B.C. while Pierce hails from the east.
“So we decided to go with east meats west.”
Pennoyer explains that he also worked in Alberta where he joined the RCMP in 2006.
His wife Sarah worked for the Mounties there too, but they decided to transfer to the Maritimes where Sarah is from for family support after the death of their six-year-old son in a traffic accident.
The Pennoyers work with the RCMP based in Amherst, although Jason, who holds the rank of sergeant, is temporarily on leave.
“My dad was a butcher, my grandfather was a butcher and they had butcher shops when I was growing up,” Pennoyer says.
“I grew up on a farm and we basically did everything from ostrich to pigs to cows to wild game and when I moved here, I tried to get a beef cut up for myself and found that it was anywhere from six to eight weeks before we could even get an animal in and then you’ve got to hang it for another 10 to 14 days, so you’re looking at well over two months and we just saw that there was a need,” he says.
He adds that it’s also good to support locally produced food.
“We take our time,” he says. “We want to do things right and make people happy.”