Meeting the appetite for gourmet cuts of New Zealand beef, lamb, venison and pork in top-flight restaurants around the globe is boosting the growth of Auckland company Neat Meat.
Plans are afoot for the company, which has a decade-old business providing high-quality meat to the restaurant trade and public, to export directly into overseas hotel kitchens and catering firms. The key was to provide a quality product.
Founded by managing director Simon Eriksen, 38, in 2001, Neat Meat takes top cuts from meat processors before butchering and grading them to match restaurant meat.
Starting with the chefs' needs and working backwards turned the traditional meat industry model on its head.
"What we realised is the chefs wanted something, the meat industry had something, but there was a massive divide," said Eriksen
One of five finalists in the University of Auckland Entrepreneurs' Challenge, Neat Meat is hoping to grab a share of $1 million in funding to fast-track its growth plans.
It's a long way from the early days when the entire operation was run out of Eriksen's 1986 Subaru Legacy and he earned the distain of parochial local chefs by attempting to supply Australian beef and lamb.
The switch to home-grown meat changed the company's fortunes and over time it expanded its brands to include Angus pure beef, Silere merino lamb, Harmony organic pork and lamb and Razorback wild boar.
Eriksen has experience with wild boar, having farmed it on a small block near Ascot, London, while on his OE. The product, which garnered a [three pound] premium, shared chiller space with prime Aberdeen Angus beef. Looking back, he said it taught him a lot about branding and creating unique products.
A partnership with chef Josh Emett saw the launch of Chef Series, slow cooked sous vide-style ready-meals for the retail market, earlier this year. These brands of value-added meat cuts and meals are now destined to go international, the concept having already been tested in Singapore.
Right now the focus is on a store opening at the end of the month in Ponsonby Central in Auckland, a new retail, street food and market development on the corner of Ponsonby Rd and Richardson Rd, and an impending move to new, purpose-built company headquarters in Eden Terrace.
Cut and thrust
*Founded by Simon Eriksen in 2001. His brothers William and Tim also work in the business.
*Supply top-quality cuts of beef, lamb, venison and pork.
*Business includes wholesale to restaurants, retail brands and online sales.
*Partnership with chef Josh Emett to produce Chef Series, restaurant-quality ready-meals.