Bringing about change in the beef industry
Order a Provenir beef dish at a local restaurant or cook a steak at home and you will experience a tender, tasty and juicy piece of beef, but what you might not know, just by the way it looks or tastes, is that this beef is different.
Provenir beef is processed on-farm in an Australian-first mobile abattoir.
The passionate folk behind this innovation include a farmer, a chef and a vet who live just outside of Ballarat and are actively changing the way red meat is processed in Australia.
“With the launch of our mobile, on-farm processing unit, we sought to create change in the industry, a change that values the highest animal welfare and does not, at any stage, compromise quality,” explains Jayne Newgreen, one of the co-founders of Provenir.
“We also recognise that our on-farm process offers a real opportunity to capture the true provenance of the meat – connecting people with the food they eat and also connecting farmers with the people that eat their food.”
Born from a shared concern for animal welfare and a passion for real food, Provenir partners with farmers to purchase and process their cattle on-farm.
“The carcass is then transported to our artisan butchery based in Bannockburn, near Geelong, where it is hung and butchered, with every step along the way focused on maximising quality,” says Jayne. “By processing on-farm, we eliminate the stress on animals associated with live transport to processors. We believe it is better for animal welfare and results in amazing quality beef.”
It’s been a long road for the Provenir team, who have been working toward their goal of commercial on-farm processing for over five years.
“We each had the idea of commercial on-farm processing individually but after we all met, our determination to turn our vision into a reality was fuelled. With skills spanning the supply chain, we were looking to disrupt, coming together as a team really made achieving our goal possible,” explains Jayne.
In 2017, the group were accepted into the inaugural cohort of SproutX, Australia’s first AgTech Accelerator Program. During the six-month program, the team refined their business case, won awards for their innovative idea and went on to raise a seed round of investment to fund the build of their mobile abattoir.
While the founders were keen to work with local farmers and process in their home state of Victoria, the NSW Food Authority was the first to license the mobile abattoir, beginning this year on a farm in southern NSW. The Provenir team are now engaging with the Victorian regulators and hope to be granted a licence to operate locally in the first half of 2020.
Christopher Howe, another of the co-founders of Provenir, first became inspired to help improve the system of animal processing while working at The Avoca Hotel and seeing the difficulties faced by local farmers.
He came to believe that traditional abattoirs were not serving the best interests of the farmers or their livestock. Having embraced rural living himself and through the experience of raising, slaughtering, butchering, curing and cooking his own meat, Christopher became convinced that “processing at the point of production was not only better for animal welfare, but meat quality too”.
As if co-founding Australia’s first mobile abattoir wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Christopher also operates the Talbot Provedore and Eatery, an award-winning eatery located in a beautiful heritage village 40 minutes north of Ballarat.
“My passion for food and supporting our local producers has been the driving force behind both businesses,” explains Christopher. At the Talbot Provedore and Eatery, Christopher and his team offer customers ‘a taste of the region’ with a focus on using seasonal produce from local growers, including Jason from Block 454 in Evansford, Mt Beckworth Free Range and Spring Creek Organics among many others. The Talbot Provedore also has a regional wine store offering an extensive selection of local wine, beers, ciders and Ballarat’s own Kilderkin Distillery gin, all available to drink-in or take home to enjoy.
As a chef and consumer of meat, Christopher recognises that the outcome for the animal is ultimately the same, regardless of how it is processed. “What I’m concerned with is the experience of the animal, particularly in its final days, and the effect that has on animal welfare and meat quality. I believe that if we’re to raise and process animals for consumption, then we owe it to that animal to ensure that it is treated with respect and the meat is the best it can possibly be.”
Just one month into operation, Provenir beef won a Gold Medal and Best in Class at the prestigious 2019 Australian Food Awards, confirming what the founder had always believed – that their unique on-farm process is not only the way to go for animal welfare, it also produces exceptional quality beef.
Today, Christopher now spends his weeks overseeing the mobile processing unit operations on-farm in New South Wales, ensuring traceability and quality of the beef, but still spends his weekends at the Talbot Provedore and Eatery. No longer in the kitchen, it’s on the floor, front-of-house looking after his guests where Christopher feels most at home.
“It’s somewhat surreal, but I’m incredibly proud to serve Provenir beef on our menus at the Talbot Provedore and Eatery. It’s an amazing feeling to know that I’ve had a hand in bringing this exceptional quality meat to the table, literally from the farm to the plate,” he said.
“I’ve been to the farm, met the farmer, seen where the cattle were raised, worked with the team in the mobile processing unit and the butchery team who cut the beef, then worked with our chef to present it to our diners. To serve our own Provenir beef is a great honour, one which I don’t think too many other chefs could say they’ve ever experienced.”
Locally, Provenir beef is available on the menu at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar and the Talbot Provedore and Eatery. It's also available fresh to purchase and cook at home from Wilsons Fruit and Vegetables, Ballarat.
As printed in Uncover Summer 2019