Mum turns survival idea into $1m business
When Bianca Tarrant fell in love with a farmer, she was imagining fields of romance with horses, wine and cheese picnics, and sunsets.
But when the city girl moved to the northern NSW farm five years ago with her partner Dave McGiveron, the reality was far from glamorous.
“We actually moved into a tin shed with no power and no running water and I thought we were moving into this romantic farm,” she told news.com.au.
“But he would use a garden hose to wash my hair in the afternoon, so it was anything but a picturesque start to my farming career. We now have hot water, which I’m very grateful for.”
When the farm was almost destroyed by fire in 2019, resulting in the loss of most of their cattle, the couple had to scramble so they wouldn’t lose everything.
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Together they created Our Cow, a business offering a flexible meat box subscription.
“It started out of pure necessity, we went through rough times after the drought, then a bushfire came through and burnt out 70 per cent of our property. We had to offload a lot of cows, we were really struggling to feed the animals – the breeders that we still had,” she said.
“Prices at the sale yards were so low when we had to offload that if we did, we would go broke and lose everything, so we had to find another way to survive.
“We started selling cuts of beef to families through social media and demand just skyrocketed. We couldn’t believe the support we received from communities that were so distant from us, it showed us how far reaching the support for farmers is when we needed help.”
The business has been such a booming success that it’s now made more than $1 million in the last year and boasts about 10,000 subscribers.
The mum-of-two said they recently launched a new service called The Exclusive Eaters Club, which costs $199 a month with people able to build their box with their choice of meat.
“It roughly works out to about 20 meals, which is $49 a week or $10 a meal, for the month,” she said.
“It’s packaged in meal size portions, so there’s 500g mince, 500g sausages or two steaks and some of the cuts last 40 days fresh in the fridge with the packaging. You don’t need to have a lot of freezer space. You can also customise the box, so if want to take out the roast chook, you can add in a beef roast, so it’s flexible and customisable.”
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The most popular products are the bacon, which is free range and smoked in house and the honey cheese cabana, Ms Tarrant said.
“It’s a perfect addition to a cheese platter. It’s smoked sausage and it’s like those cabanossi sticks you get in the supermarket. It’s beautiful,” she said.
Grass-fed beef products are also a staple in most households who order, the 27-year-old said, while they also tried to “value add” with a range of smoked products and even pet food for dogs.
“We love that we can provide a better way for Australians to eat meat. It’s high-quality meat products, directly from the farm,” she said.
“It hasn’t changed hands 10 times before it gets to your dinner plate.”
Australia produces some of the best livestock in the world, but the majority of it gets exported overseas, explained Ms Tarrant.
“The quality of the meat at Our Cow is far superior then anything you’d find at the supermarket. The majority of the meat you buy in supermarkets is industrially farmed, and we are not about that,” she claimed.
“But our prices are comparable, if not a little cheaper than the supermarkets.”
Ms Tarrant said they were never expecting the business to take off the way it did, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were really humbled we were able to help people stay home and have good access to quality meat, so that was really nice for us to be able to help out in way and to help the community because we deliver all across Australia,” she said.
“But I think people have this connection with where their food comes from and they want to know the story where the food has come from — they want to know where it was raised and that it was sustainably and ethically reared and they are supporting Australian farmers directly.”
The couple recently built a facility in Casino and want to replicate this in Victoria and Western Australia to connect consumers with local produce.
Our Cow’s subscription boxes have been so popular that the couple can’t meet demand from their farm alone and work with 50 beef producers in NSW and Queensland, as well as lamb, pork and organic chicken producers who supply to the service. All the produce is grass-fed, according to Ms Tarrant.
“This gives farmers an alternative, secure, sustainable livestock market by not relying on cattle prices through conventional selling methods and large multinational companies to purchase products, instead going directly to the consumer,” she added.
“Our point of difference is we can offer farmers a secure and a stable price which does not fluctuate like the price at the sale yard does. We stay above the average and offer locked in pricing so there is no change with the weather and supply and demand.”