Whether it’s switching to a more sustainable brand, or supporting one that makes ethical sourcing decisions, Australians are increasingly looking for purpose in every purchase they make. And investors are beginning to realise it.
Last week, rural Australia-based direct-to-consumer meat subscription Our Cow opened up to equity investment, and breezed past its target of $1.5 million with two weeks left.
The service, which connects Australians directly with the farmers that raise and prepare their meat, is aiming to use the investment to scale up and improve the business’ operations.
“We have big goals that we want to achieve, more farmers who we want to support, and we want to make sure our meat processing plant in Casino is optimised and able to scale with the growth that we’re anticipating over the next year,” said farmer and Our Cow co-founder Bianca Tarrant.
“Just this week we started shipping to Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, so it’s really exciting.”
Supporting rural communities, and the farmers that live there, has become a significant cause over the last few years in Australia, as droughts, floods, mice plagues and bushfires have ravaged the hard-working communities that supply the country’s metropolitan population.
Since the pandemic, when many consumers faced shortages in their local supermarkets, Tarrant believes that people are now looking for alternative ways of buying food.
“I think it’s 100 per cent the way of the future,” said Tarrant.
“People have become more confident in ordering online, and we’ve seen a lot of people choose to subscribe because so [often] during the pandemic, the supermarket shelves were bare, and they couldn’t guarantee where their next meal was coming from.”
But Our Cow isn’t just a set-and-forget meat delivery service, Tarrant explained. Our Cow’s customers sign up to become part of a tight-knit community of like-minded people that are looking to “eat purposefully and mindfully”. This is called the Exclusive Eaters Club, which is made up of over 4000 members and 100 farmers.
The business also offers interactive cooking classes to show subscribers how best to prepare their meat, and has private Facebook groups to connect customers and farmers.
From farm to table
And the proposition seems to be working. Currently, 87 per cent of customers who trial the business renew their subscription, and since its launch in 2019, business has grown 1200 per cent – now sending out around 30 tonnes of meat each week.
Initially, however, the business started out as a way for co-founders and farmers Tarrant and David McGiveron to create a more stable living for themselves after years of erratic cattle prices.
“You never really know what price you’re going to get for your livestock,” Tarrant said. “It’s always a gamble. You’re reliant on weather, market fluctuations, commodity prices, and [after droughts and the 2019 bushfires] we just couldn’t afford to keep flying blind.”
The pair started selling their livestock as meat on Facebook, and after seeing massive demand realised there was a desire to buy produce directly from the source. And, because customers are increasingly willing to pay premium prices for premium products, they are able to pay their farmers a set price for meat.
“We offer premium, grass-fed, organic and free-range products. And because of that, we can offer our farmers a better price for their food because we actually know what goes into producing that kind of meat. We’re farmers ourselves,” said Tarrant.
“We know what it takes to produce an animal and still be profitable, and we can offer our farmers that because our customers are willing to pay a bit more. They know it’s good quality, it’s delivered directly to their door, and they know their money is going into the pockets of a family farm probably not too far from where they live, not some big national corporation.”