24 May 2023

Family-run beef farm cuts out the middleman

1:18 pm on 24 May 2023
Green Meadows Beef products.

Green Meadows Beef products. Photo: Supplied

A boutique Taranaki beef producer is hoping to cut fresh export deals at a summit for young business leaders in Thailand this week.

Green Meadows Beef was a family-run operation which farmed Angus cattle on 170 hectares near Opunake, and processed them at its own New Plymouth butchery.

Nick Carey ditched his lawyer's gown to take up the reins of the business a decade ago. He was just 27 years old when his parents - Joe and Margy - had an epiphany about the way they were operating.

"We were getting recognition from some of the larger meat companies as having a superior product and being a farm they could bring their clients to.

"So, we really thought, why are they getting the recognition? And is there a way we can connect directly to customers? And that's how it was born.

"And we set up a website and started selling direct to customers just over 10 years ago."

Carey - who also has brothers Brent and Karl on board - said things were done differently at Green Meadows.

"The animals have access to fresh pasture everyday. They are rotationally grazed much like a dairy animal, so they are never hungry.

"We have our own community water supply scheme that the animals are drinking and we also operate a quite low-stress model, so no dogs or anything that could harm them on the farm."

Consistency was paramount.

"That comes down to breed, so the same breed Angus and same weight at slaughter. So, everything is controlled in terms of the weight of the animal to get that consistent experience."

Green Meadows Beef was now found in most supermarkets and could be ordered direct from the website and, as butcher Kerry Rea explained, it was increasingly available overseas.

"Right here I am cutting fillet steak, eye fillet steak from the Careys' farm for export to Singapore and we cut it here and vacuum pack it over there in the skim pack.

"I'm making sure that everything is nice and flat so that when it goes over there it goes through nicely, so that it looks good for our customers."

Carey said those eye fillets would be on flight to Auckland within hours and then onto a supermarket chain in Singapore.

Green Meadows Beef team

Nick Carey with his parents at a butchery store at Waiwhakaiho, New Plymouth. Photo: Supplied

"So, that freshness that we're connecting straight value-added products into overseas supermarkets in two to three days is exciting and unique."

He said Green Meadows had recently begun exporting to French Polynesia, and the opportunity to travel to Thailand through the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative would help extend that further.

"One thing that I've learnt over the past six months or so since borders have been reopened and we've been able to travel again is that you just can't underestimate the value of face-to-face interaction.

"Particularly overseas where you're building those networks and connections, so I guarantee something will come out of it and it's through the value of that face-to-face opportunity."

The Asia New Zealand Foundation established the young business leaders group in partnership with the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Foundation business development manager Nick Siu said the summit was about reconnecting after Covid-19.

"So, 10 of the entrepreneurs would be coming from New Zealand and another 10 extra coming from New Zealand as part of a Māori food and beverage delegation, and 60 entrepreneurs are coming from across all of ASEAN whether it be Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore or the Philippines."

He said they came from a variety of backgrounds.

"We've got a whole range of different sectors, so it's a sector agnostic programme. So, you'll get entrepreneurs across food and beverage, Nick is obviously in agri, but also from tech, entertainment and fashion."

Green Meadows Beef's Nick Carey.

Green Meadows Beef's Nick Carey. Photo: Supplied

Carey for one, could not wait.

"That's a great environment to be to discuss trade and world problems and better ways of doing business."

The summit wraps up on Sunday.

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