In 1988, just a year after arriving in Australia, Jose Pereira was presented the opportunity of a lifetime: to purchase a small butcher shop called Sunshine Meats in Redfern from his employer. He had just 3 months’ butchery experience, a mere $500 in his pocket and no other financial backing, and English was his second language.
Back then supermarket giants were fast growing and small businesses started to sink deep into the recession of the early 90s. In order to survive in the increasingly competitive market, Jose knew he needed to differentiate his product range and give customers a reason to choose him over the leading retailer. His wife Maria, who had experience working in delis since the age of 16, introduced items such as pastas, fresh bread, oils and cheeses, to complement their fresh meat cuts. Business continued to suffer in the recession and to avoid loss of stock, Jose started to create smoked and oven roasted products, experimenting with flavours inspired by his Portuguese homeland of Madeira. A Portuguese style chorizo, coppa and salami were the first products he created.
Rent rises were the next challenge and they forced Jose and Maria to move their business to a butcher shop in Dulwich Hill. It was here that Sunshine Meats’ signature product, Double Smoked Chilli Chicken Breast, was first produced. As popularity and demand for Sunshine Meats’ smoked smallgoods increased, the business moved to a factory in Marrickville in the early 2000s and began focusing solely on wholesale.
A decade later, the business had outgrown the Marrickville premises and in 2011 Jose and Maria constructed a purpose-built factory in Milperra with an on-site deli/cafe selling direct to the end consumer. The Charcuterie Room @ Sunshine Meats has now become a favourite in the Bankstown area and a face for the award-winning brand.
Since 2014, Sunshine Meats products and The Charcuterie Room @ Sunshine Meats have been crowned the best in the country and the local area. Sunshine Meats was awarded Australia’s best artisan ham in 2014 from the Australian Pork Corporation, and has since won a number of other ham awards including Champion Ham at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show in 2018. Sunshine Meats’ Nitrite Free Butterfly Duck also was crowned Champion Poultry product at the same awards, and the Smoked Duck Breast won most innovative product at the Food and Beverage Industry Awards that year.
The Charcuterie Room @ Sunshine Meats is itself a winner, having been named best delicatessen and Bankstown Business of the Year at the local business awards in 2014. An award for business innovation followed in 2015 along with the title of best fresh food business in the country at the Australian Small Business Championship Awards.
To this day the quality and passion for what Jose and Maria do has never faltered. Some of Sunshine Meats’ customers have followed in the journey from Redfern and are always happy to share what Sunshine Meats means to their family. Sunshine Meats remains a proud Australian family-owned and operated business with Jose at the helm of production, Maria adding her flair to the deli/cafe and their daughter Celina managing the office and business alongside her dad.
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