Dan Tarasenko and Zak Sequoia believe Australian farmers who employ ethical, sustainable hormone-free farming practices should be rewarded for their efforts.
Which is why the Sapphire Coast-based digital innovators have exploited their knowledge of the sharing economy to launch a new venture they claim will help small and medium farmers get better value from their livestock.
So how does it work?
Capitalising on the success of the crowdfunding model, the aptly named, Crowd Carnivore, enables individuals, work or social groups to form clubs to purchase grass-fed beef or lamb directly from local producers. Once the entire animal is pre-sold, it’s then sent away for ageing and processing after which it is split between the buyers and home delivered.
Through each campaign, Crowd Carnivore sells 12 mixed boxes of meat per animal for between $200 and $400. Each of these contains between 10kg and 16kg of mixed cuts, including bone.
Tarasenko says the pair developed the concept after moving to a rural area and meeting many “extremely passionate” farmers who were without the necessary skills or simply too busy marketing their product direct to the consumer.
Connecting passionate farmers with consumers who appreciate what they do is a market need that had been building up for some time, he says.
It's a huge logistical challenge… to get a perishable product from the best producers in a timely manner to the consumer's front door.
“Meat has become a commodity item. Pressure is put on farmers for a fast turnaround of a consistent product, and this is affecting the animal welfare, flavour and nutritional profile, as well as damage to the land. There's a market there that recognises the need to return to slow food and restorative agricultural practices.”
Tarasenko and Sequoia put in almost $100,000 of their own money to develop the technology and after working on the start-up for almost a year launched Crowd Carnivore in February 2016.
Despite having only a limited delivery area encompassing Sydney and much of the lower Eastern seaboard as well as metro and rural Victoria and parts of the ACT, the duo has “thousands” of registered pledgers and has consistently sold around $10,000 worth or product each week. Sequoia says to date there's no ‘typical’ Crowd Carnivore buyer with everyone from health-focused consumers to young couples seeking a connection to their food committing funds.
The pair believe their business model minimises wastage and eliminates uncertainty for the farmer while enabling the consumer to purchase high quality meat at a smaller quantity and at a better price than through normal wholesale channels.
Although – they're quick to admit setting up the business hasn't been pain-free.
“It's a huge logistical challenge… to get a perishable product from the best producers in a timely manner to the consumer's front door. Many different networks have to connect within the right timeframe, and there's not a lot of room for error,” says Tarasenko.
Solidifying the logistics network will keep their practice commercially sustainable with the brand’s future plans including extending its existing network, expanding the offering with different produce and incorporating different software solutions.
He says farmers are used to fighting for sustainability - be it family, economic or environmental sustainability.
“It's a tough lifestyle choice but consumers can and do want to meet you and access your produce. Farmers are used to meeting markets and the consumer to farmer provenance market is there and it's growing.”
Tracey Porter is a career journalist whose mug shot appears everywhere from daily newspapers and online news sites to business and consumer magazine titles.