Fresh meat delivered to parking lots, cuts out middle man

It’s midday and a crucifying ninety degrees in the Suncoast Baptist parking lot when biblical boxes of boneless chicken breast go flying off the white truck that just pulled into the church parking lot.

A procession of cars lines up for deliverance-- of the cardboard box variety.

“It’s a fantastic deal,” customer Toni Wolfenbarger.

Wolfenbarger and dozens of others are picking up meat they bought online from a company called Zaycon Fresh.

"Everything is bought and paid for in advance," said Zaycon driver Kelen Efta. The ‘event,’ as Zaycon puts it, is merely for pick-ups. "Basically, just like a drive through," Efta said.

Zaycon charges $1.69 for the chicken, which always comes in 40 pound boxes and always is delivered in a parking lot somewhere.

"Why not,” asks customer Barb Schlie. “It a great price, it's a great product."

Zaycon says its chicken is safe and is inspected just the same as meat consumers buy in grocery stores. The company says it can offer prices that are lower than supermarkets by eliminating middlemen and giving consumers access to bulk prices.

Zaycon says its chicken is often fresher than what you’ll find in a supermarket. "Our products are fresh, never frozen," Efta explains. He then points to the processing date stamp on the box.

"That's three days ago,” he says. ”This chicken was alive and roaming around three days ago."

Zaycon operates with little to no advertising and delivers to each city it serves every few months. Suncoast Baptist was one of five stops in the Tampa Bay area that day.

“This was number three,” Efta said.

Most of the company’s customers– those willing to line up in parking lots – discover Zaycon by word of mouth or via referrals in social media.  

Its phenomenal $1.69 price per pound is half of what some grocers charge. But the bargain comes at a cost: some elbow grease.

Customer Liza Ford pulls up and agrees to show us the rest of the deal.

"The chicken needs to be trimmed a bit," she explains.

Once in her kitchen, Ford constructs an assembly line and plays butcher for a while. She pulls the breasts from a blue bag jammed inside the brown box. She inspects each one for small pockets of fat or skin, and cuts it away. Next, she repackages the breasts into zip-top bags that she’ll freeze for use over the next two or three months.

"It usually takes us about an hour to trim it,” she says.

We were curious about the amount of waste that is created and how that might change the actual price per pound.

"I would guestimate there's about five pounds of waste," Ford said.

When we recalculate the price to account for the unwanted fat and skin, then include the cost of plastic bags, we estimate the breasts are actually $1.99 per pound.

Ford, who runs, a website dedicated to finding deals, says even at $1.99 and with an hour of work the price is still attractive.

"You want to take advantage of a deal like this," she said.