Exclusive interview with Well Hung Meat Company’s CEO

Simon Wood, CEO of The Well Hung Meat Company (this month’s meat box supplier), kindly spent a few moments answering my questions. Here’s the goss on happy animals, buzz saws and rare steak:

1. Your produce tastes phenomenal. Tell me about the difference between the meat I see in a supermarket and the meat that you produce.

Thank you for your compliment. The secret to great tasting meat is to consider every stage of its production, from the soil to the steak.

First we must consider the breeds of animals, as these can have a large impact on the meat produced. We like to use traditional breeds such as the South Devon (beef) or the Poll Dorset (Lamb). We find these animals have a great balance between fat, marbling and muscle, and they are perfectly suited to our climate (mild and wet).

We only look at farms with high standards of animal welfare, low stocking densities and organic farming standards. This ensures the grazing land is not contaminated with fertilisers and insecticides and that the animals are outside grazing grass, where they belong. We passionately believe in animal welfare, and that stress caused by poor welfare practices can contaminate what would otherwise have been good meat.

Low travel distances to the abattoir can also reduced stress, and where possible we use a small, local, family run abattoir who process less in a week than the large abattoirs do in an hour.

Then comes the hanging. All meat should be hung to mature the flavour. Moisture is lost, and lots of refrigeration is required which is why nearly all supermarkets don’t bother. Hanging the meat (on the bone) tenderises the muscle as the enzymes break down the tissue and the fat also matures (gets richer) in flavour.

Finally, we don’t spoil the meat by slicing it with a bandsaw (bone dust flies everwhere). We use good butchers, with decent knives on solid butchery blocks. The meat is then vacuum packed to seal in the freshness.

2. You have said that you use only traditional techniques when butchering because there’s ‘nothing romantic about a buzz saw’. Would you say tradition is very important to your business and how far would you go in adopting modern methods?

Good question. As a matter of fact I believe Well Hung Meat is a perfect example of a company that bridge the gap between modern and traditional.

On one hand we use farms who implement techniques as old as man farming itself. Organic farming means stock rotation not chemical fertilisation, it means high stockmanship not routing drug treatments. Organic farming means using nature to defend crops not chemical insecticide. Then we use traditional butchery techniques to ensure the quality of the meat is good. A butcher with a knife in the hand in my opinion is better than a quality control department any day.

But to say we haven’t adopted modern practices is a big mistake. After all, we are an online company who actively encourage customers to manage their account through our website. We deliver meat to anywhere in the country using a courier network and insulated boxes packed with gel ice. We use vacuum machines to seal our meat and keep it as fresh as possible once cut. We scan all meat dispatched through a sophisticated e-tail system to record deliveries.

For me, it is this blend of modern and traditional which sets us apart from the competition.

3. How many meat boxes are you selling a month? Do you have expectations to shift more?

We have doubled our meat box sales over the last 12 months and we have ambitious plans to do the same next year. We are currently dispatching about 200 boxes a week (850 a month).

4. What’s a typical day in a life of one of your livestock?

Put simply it would be pretty good. At this time of the year they are outside, enjoying the lush green grass (or organic feed for the pigs). They have acres of space to move around. They are left alone.

5. What’s your favourite product that you sell, and do you have a failsafe recipe for it?

My favourite meat product is the rib eye steak (we had an email debate on this subject last year which was sent to our customers). The best way to cook a steak is to keep things simple. I like mine extremely rare.

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2 thoughts on “Exclusive interview with Well Hung Meat Company’s CEO

  1. Pingback: Make-it-up cottage pie | Meat in a Box

  2. Pingback: One month on… | Meat in a Box

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