Click above to watch video interview with Prime Future’s Janette Barnard and Mike Salguero, CEO of ButcherBox.
SEVERAL years ago US tech entrepreneur Mike Salguero went in search of grassfed beef for his family but couldn’t find any.
He began sourcing beef directly from a farmer near New York, about three hours away from his Boston home.
Before long his interest in connecting consumers and producers had developed into a hobby delivering meat by mail across the US.
His initial offering via a Kick Starter campaign quickly demonstrated the strength of consumer interest in being able to source claims-based, 100 percent grassfed beef in the US.
Mr Salguero hoped to earn $25,000 worth of pre-sales, but realised the fledgling business had ‘struck a nerve’ when it achieved over $200,000 of pre-sales within 30 days of the campaign beginning.
ButcherBox is now a fully-fledged “meat in the mail” business supplying ethically-raised, grassfed beef as well as pork, chicken and seafood in curated boxes to subscribers across the US.
In a recent interview with Janette Barnard, editor of the weekly Prime Future newsletter in the US, Mr Salguero explains that he sources most of his grassfed beef from Australia and New Zealand.
He is looking to source more locally produced grassfed beef in the US and is working with producers there to build the grassfed industry there “from the bottom up”, a process he expects “to take years” which fits with his long-term view for both the US grassfed industry and the ButcherBox brand.
“We want to be the signal in the market that if you’re willing to grow an animal the right way and work with us, we want to work with you,” he said.
Mr Salguero made the observation that the Australian sector is ahead of the US in terms of technology and the use of RFID tagging and also from a grassfed meat grading perspective through MSA (Meat Standards Australia).
“It is way easier for us to say, hey we want an animal like this there (in Australia) than it is here,” he said.
“In this country the whole industry marches to Choice, Prime and Select, but that is not how grassfed should be graded.”
He said that for grassfed production in the US to grow quality ratings need to change beyond the current marbling based system which is tailored to grainfed production.
In the video interview Mr Salguero also discusses the ButcherBox growth story in more detail covering early challenges the business faced, how a non-traditional approach to raising venture capital helped to give the business the freedom it ultimately needed to succeed, and his thoughts on the implications of technology and new business models for the future of the retail meat value chain.