Repeat orders and revenues have increased fourfold compared to pre-Covid levels for the business which has a guaranteed stock of turkeys for this Christmas. More cheer can be found in new partnerships with Harrods including supplying its new Swedish restaurant Studio Frantzén and heritage steak cuts to its food halls.
These are adding to Farmison’s upbeat trading outlook and the firm is forecasting a £30 million plus turnover in 2024.
Based in Ripon, North Yorkshire where it employs a team of 100, Farmison buys direct and has more than 30 farms and small holdings and 125 producers in its traceable and exclusive supply chain.
“Farmison’s meat is always free range, from naturally fed livestock and matured slowly for the fullest flavour – an artisanal journey from fields to home cooks’ kitchens,” says founder and chief executive John Pallagi, a former restaurant owner who founded the business in 2011.
From an Anglo-Hungarian family whose respect for good food was a primary influence, he still remembers how his radical vision for better quality meat was repeatedly shot down at first as he was told “the animals are too small to be profitable” or “the public doesn’t care about free-range or grass fed”.
Since then he has been at the forefront of moves providing practical support to farmers to bring back British rare breeds such as the ancient and “amazing” super hardy little White Park and Gloucester across beef, promote Berkshire and Gloucestershire Old Spot free range pork and Herdwick and Ryeland lamb.
“The UK has unique bloodlines that produce the best beef, pork and lamb in the world, bred to perfection in the 18th and 19th centuries to yield juicier textures and contribute to the land. Even Wagu has British roots,” declares Pallagi whose current best-sellers are varieties of mince and a lamb sausage infused with spicy heat.
“Eating local seasonal food is a vital part of our value-for-money mission, for instance in autumn that’s mutton and Scottish and Yorkshire venison,” he explains.
“Today’s customers care about what they eat and we offer a huge choice of cuts for scratch cooks, dinner party purchasers and pro kitchens.
“The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already there. The fundamentals are in our favour – from online sales to the importance of sustainability.
“Eating less but better is central to our ethos. Overall we’re part of a wider consumer transition to extensive regenerative agriculture in food production.
“We buy direct and this is super important. It creates control, knowledge and trust.
“We get to hear everything first and manage the process from farmer relations, product selection, maturation and craft butchery to courier service to customers’ doors and kitchen inspiration with our Michelin-star chef Jeff Baker’s recipe cards.
“As we grow we can help reset the relationship our farmers have with those that buy from them, giving them a greater share of the investment they make in their herds. A £1 burger is just wrong.”
Farmison’s carcass balance practices ensure minimum waste and its e-commerce model, that is backed by a bespoke IT stock management system with live counts, cuts waste too as well as offering next-day delivery. “There is potential in future to license the technology we’ve developed,” adds Pallagi.
A move to a 60,000 sq ft plant before Covid allowed Farmison to scale during lockdown, increasing its suppliers’ confidence and bringing it to the attention of private equity.
The UK has a £16billion meat market with the online sector expected to reach £3billion by 2030.
Farmison’s investors include consumer specialist Inverleith and backers of Planet Organic and chocolate brand Montezuma’s.
In the next two years Pallagi will look to raise a further £5million to £7.5million because, he says, “we’ve only just scratched the surface – we are upping the ante for food-based businesses and increasing knowledge. Our aim is to be a £100million sustainable brand”.