Unlike chickens, where consumers and businesses are used to buying the animal as a whole, other meats like beef and pork have less desirable cuts and are mostly bought and sold in pieces. We as consumers go to our local supermarket or butcher and buy cuts like a t-bone, scotch or sirloin – rarely do we buy a whole cow, for obvious reasons like storage and costs.
Given direct marketing to customers is based off buying only these best parts of an animal, farmers face difficulty in finding an area or customer base for the the less desirable meat like the secondary cuts and internal organs, and therefore miss out on extra profit. Recently launched Australian startup Crowd Carnivore is working reduce the cost of selling animals and making a profit off those animals as a whole.
In the farming industry everything is processed through a licensed abattoir, with farmers selling to meat suppliers, butchers, or chains first sending their stock to abattoirs and then abattoirs then sending the good cuts on. Running – and using – an abattoir is an expensive business: setting up a small abattoir will set someone back at least $5 million.
To make the processing fee somewhat cheaper for farmers, abattoirs on-sell parts of the animal, which makes it difficult to get back things like the skin or organs as there are other markets for that; abattoirs usually re-sell organs to pet food suppliers, for example. If a farmer wants to use organs or hide for other purposes, they essentially have to buy that back from the abattoir, and even then some abattoirs even refuse to sell it back.
Cofounders of Crowd Carnivore Dan Tarasenko and Zachary Sequoia have decided to apply the concept of crowdfunding to meat in order to give farmers an avenue for the direct sale of a whole animal. The startup solves the farmer’s direct marketing issues and provides consumers with a transparent connection to their food source.
Crowdfunding a whole cow for example is split into 12 boxes and essentially 12 consumers. In each box there are good cuts and secondary cuts, for consumers to eat themselves or feed their pets.
“When we sell 12 or we get 12 pledges the campaign closes, the cow is then sold, and we send that order to the farmer. The farmer knows he’s got the whole cow sold so he can send it off to be processed and then it’s delivered to the customers,” said Tarasenko.
For farmers Crowd Carnivore has a strict criteria to ensure high quality meat and ethical production. The platform crowdfunds grass fed meat and sources from farms that adhere to environmentally friendly procedures, such as regenerative agriculture.
Each farmer is hand selected and once verified they are brought onto the platform, where they create a profile to inform potential customers about the history of their farm and their animals.
“They can then share the campaign through their social media networks and their friends. We really encourage the sharing and the connection so it’s not just one customer buying from one farmer, we would like one customer and three or four of their friends to buy from the farmer. The farmer just gets that whole benefit and the emotional benefit of being connected to their customers so they get that appreciation as well,” explained Sequoia.
Crowdfunding platforms have, of course, helped bring to life millions of ideas from tech products to charity and community-minded initiatives. The more recent application of crowdfunding to farms is a growing initiative to solve the problems faced by the ‘frustrated farmer.’ Earlier this month Australian startup Cultivate Farms setup a crowdfunding model to connect suitable farms and young farming families to investors who can help them fund the purchase of their farm.
With both the connection between farmers and consumers or investors is made easy through the online platform. On Crowd Carnivore consumers are connected to farmers based on their geographical location. They can view farmers and the campaigns available for delivery in their area. Consumers choose their selection of meat from the farms available to them and once they have joined a pledge, the site reviews their details and confirms them for delivery.
Once the whole animal has been pledged the farmer sends the meat to an abattoir for processing. Depending on where the customer lives, the meat is then sent to a local butcher who then cuts the meat to the box’s specifications. An administration and marketing fee is then charged to the farmers, where Crowd Carnivore takes a 10-15 percent cut of the whole campaign.
Crowd Carnivore uses a courier network to then deliver the box of meat to the customer. Delivery times can be specified through the platform, where consumers in NSW for example are given the option of a pre-dawn delivery.
“The customer wakes up and there’s a box of meat on their doorstep, which is a really good way of making sure the delivery happens, the customer is always home, and they can sort the meat out quickly in the morning before they go to work,” explained Tarasenko.
To comply with food standards, Crowd Carnivore vacuum seals the meat, which gives the customer a week or two of fridge storage.
Tarasenko said he wants to make the whole process as easy as possible for the consumer.
“There is essentially twenty kilos of meat rocking up and most people have never purchased that amount before so we put in a lot of effort into the delivery,” he explained.
The platform and delivery service is in full compliance with standards governing food services in Australia. Each state has its own food criteria and Crowd Carnivore has worked to ensure every aspect has been approved with a government license.
Since launch in March, Crowd Carnivore has run some local campaigns and is now looking to raise $1 million to get it across the line and expand the service to every state in Australia. Looking at the new equity crowdfunding laws to be put in place by the Turnbull Government, Sequoia said they may also look to crowdfund that $1 million investment.
Currently on the platform, farmers can crowdfund cows and lambs, with pork soon to be available. Sequoia said the startup has also been talking to some pork producers in NSW and Victoria.
“We’re looking at heritage breed pigs…there’s just a lot of farmers out there that are doing really good work with free range and open outdoor pasture range that we’re going to bring on board, so the pork will come really soon,” he said.
Crowd Carnivore has also sparked interest with other animals like buffalo, which Sequoia admitted he never thought would be a part of the campaigns, but is happy to offer to farmers and consumers.
He said the startup will also look to develop closer relationships with abattoirs as it goes on.
The plan for the startup is to first cover the east coast of Australia and then move onto the west. This month Crowd Carnivore is also moving to New Zealand, after which it will look to Asia.
Image: Dan Tarasenko and Zachary Sequoia. Source: Supplied