The Provenir journey – it’s the ‘how’ (not just the cow) that makes highest welfare, ethical meat
The Provenir team knew that they wanted to ethically process and deliver the best meat direct from the farmer to the consumer. They also knew that the highest animal welfare and the lowest possible animal stress creates the best beef, as does allowing animals to graze and grow naturally in their familiar herd groups – free range and grass-fed. However, the industry paradigm and state legislation within the Australian meat industry made realising these goals impossible. That’s where a determined group of individuals decided to fight – for many years – to improve a flawed system resistant to change.
Established in 2017, Provenir is Australia’s only licensed mobile on-farm meat processing operation. In fact, it is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. Provenir enables Australians to buy meat that was processed directly on the farm on which it was raised, a tradition which has all but disappeared in the modern Western food production system. Although we have only been able to offer this farm to table meat delivery service for a few short years, the story begins much earlier. In fact, it’s something that took a determined group of individuals nearly 8 years to achieve with many roadblocks along the way.
Traditional meat processing and the expansion of industrial agriculture
In Australia, 99.9% of meat (or perhaps even greater, if you move into smaller decimals) is processed at a fixed abattoir and it is a legal requirement that all meat destined for human consumption is prepared in one of these facilities. While describing this entire process in detail may be more than you care to read about, we can tell you with absolute conviction that mainstream commercial meat processing is primarily focused on and designed around human convenience, not animal welfare. Abattoirs are stressful, foreign environments that can require animals to be transported over great distances to reach the final destination (you can read more about animal stress and on-farm processing at a previous blog post here). While animal stress has significant ethical implications, it also has adverse affects meat quality too. The two are intrinsically linked.
Due to both the rise of industrial agriculture and changes to the way many consumers purchase and access meat, the artisan butcher tradition of the local butcher growing their own beef (or aligning with a local beef farmer), processing this on farm and then selling wholesale meat direct to the public is largely a thing of the past. Today, the typical way that meat is processed in Australia (and the only option available for many farmers) is to sell animals to meat company buyers who take the cattle to a feedlot before transporting them to an abattoir for processing.
For the farmer that places significant importance on ensuring the wellbeing of their animals there exist two monumental challenges in this system – farmers don’t have anywhere other than a fixed abattoir to have the meat processed and even if they did, how would they sell it to the consumer? This system causes significant emotional and ethical unrest for many farmers, who raise their animals from birth and dedicate their careers to ensuring that these sentinel animals are cared for properly.
The legislation surrounding meat production is very strict and has also made this industrial system rigid and resistant to change. Don’t mistake us here, this legislation is very important as it ensures that all meat is processed safely for human consumption. However, we knew that we could process meat safely on-farm through strict hygiene, highly skilled staff and careful equipment design as demonstrated elsewhere in the world – we just had to change the law in Australia to prove it.
The on-farm butcher
Can you butcher meat on farm in Australia legally? If you are a farmer – yes. But this meat cannot be sold, traded or bartered – and is not legally allowed to leave the farm. Many on-farm butchers still exist and do a wonderful job providing farmers wonderful meat from their own farm. However, developing and maintaining a registered and compliant on-farm butcher (abattoir) is hugely expensive. While this is the dream of many farmers, significant expense means that the average farmer cannot afford to build an on farm meat processing facility nor make one profitable or financially sustainable. As you know by now, the only other option for farmers prior Provenir was to send their cattle away from their home farm environment – often several hundred kilometres away – to a fixed abattoir.
At the time of Provenir’s inception, one such on-farm butchery was operating at Bannockburn in Western Victoria. This famous SageFarm was operated by Provenir CEO & Founder Chris Balazs and was renowned for producing exceptional quality ethically raised meats. In fact, SageFarm beef, lamb and pork was the choice of many top chefs (IF they could get their hands on it). At that stage, the laws meant that Chris couldn’t do anything to assist other farmers on the same journey toward stress-free meat, which was his ultimate goal. So, Chris’ attention was redirected to his overarching mission to expand the highest welfare philosophy across Australia and through this, the creation of Provenir. Nowadays, that famous SageFarm grass-fed beef is processed on-farm by Provenir.
The journey to highest welfare and ethically produced free-range beef
Provenir was developed by a small group of people – Chris, who you have already heard about, as well as a chef, a vet and several other passionate individuals. All of them knew that there was a better way and that it WAS possible to process free range meat ethically, compliantly and legally. They also knew that the answer was relatively simple – unnecessary animal stress could be bypassed by removing animal transport and taking the abattoir to the farm. The Provenir founders wanted to ensure that every animal is able to live a healthy, happy and natural life from start to finish – with the finish being of the upmost importance. While there is a way to go for the rest of the industry, Provenir has achieved this through the many farmers that are now able to process their free range beef on farm.
The details as to how this was finally achieved are long and involve hundreds of letters to policy makers (many of which were probably never read), many thousands of hours of work and straight weeks (or months) of phone calls. There were definitely moments when it was expected that we wouldn’t succeed and yes, there were tears.
Many years after the journey began Provenir finally influenced a change of legislation to allow their certified mobile on farm meat processing unit to operate across Victoria and New South Wales (we’re still working on the other states). Although Provenir many only process a tiny amount of Australian beef, for the Provenir farmers, animals and consumers the difference is HUGE.
The simple change to the industrial approach to agriculture by processing beef on farm has a huge range of benefits. We’ve listed a few below;
- Farmers are able to guarantee that their animals are well cared for the entirety of their lives, from the first day to the last.
- Animals never have to enter stressful environments and can live happily within their natural herd groups, on their own farm.
- Provenir enables the processing of meat on farm in a way that is viable for the farmer, without the enormous costs to maintaining an on-farm butchery.
- Both small and larger farms are able to sell on-farm processed meat directly to the public and similarly consumers are able to buy meat from the farmer.
- Consumers know exactly where their meat is coming from and how it was raised, with each Provenir pack being able to be traced back to the farm that it was grown on.
- Consumers know exactly what is in their meat – Provenir meat is 100% free range, hormone free and grass fed beef.
Highest welfare, grass-fed beef
If you would like to know more about the benefits of grass-fed and free range beef, take a look at our article Why is Grass Fed Beef Better?
The Provenir Six Star Promise
Provenir allows consumers to buy beef direct from the farmer and delivers a six star promise;
Provenir farmers utilise low stress handling techniques and raise their livestock on open pastures within a familiar herd structure; allowing the animals to express their natural character.
Instead of the livestock being transported, the abattoir comes to the farm. Eliminates unnecessary stress on animals associated with live transport. Less stress means less adrenalin produced, and thus more retained glycogen stores in the meat, leading to exceptional eating quality, taste and tenderness.
Full traceability & true provenance
Provenir oversees the whole operation from purchasing livestock on farm direct from our partnering farmers, to the on-farm processing, into our butchery and on to you. By processing on-farm and utilising the latest in digital traceability technology we are able provide full transparency and guaranteed provenance.
Grass-fed & free range
Provenir partners with farmers who raise their livestock free range and grass-fed. For cattle and lamb this means they are fed on natural grasses, pasture, hay or silage.
Exceptional eating quality
Our on-farm process and artisan butchery techniques ensures that the quality of the meat is retained and maximised throughout the whole process.
No and hormones, herd antibiotics or intensive feedlots
Provenir farmers raise their livestock naturally: they do not feedlot, nor do they add hormones or antibiotics to the feed as growth promotants.
How to Purchase Provenir
If you do care about animal welfare, and of course great tasting, high quality meat, visit the Provenir online butcher shop now and find out for yourself why people are trusting Provenir. Provenir enables a connection between you and the farmer, via a unique QR code on each meat pack, that tells you the entire paddock to plate story behind each cut of meat.
You can also keep up to date with Provenir news by signing up to the Provenir newsletter.
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Where to buy
You can have Provenir home delivered, purchase in-store, or experience it first hand at select restaurants.
Order online and receive Provenir beef delivered to your door.
Find Provenir beef in grocery stores and butchers.
Experience Provenir beef cooked to perfection.