One of the side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown that affected us for many months is that our reliance on the local supermarket has been shaken. With supermarkets enforcing social distancing rules and home grocery deliveries increasingly had to obtain, many people started to look around for alternatives.
That was good news for the many independent food and drink producers working in the UK to provide home deliveries, including what is arguably the fastest growing sector: home meat deliveries. This trend towards meat delivery is also boosted by increasing awareness of the harm that the global meat industry is doing to the environment. This has led to a demand for locally produced meat, and a variety of inventive English producers have been meeting that demand.
The new generation of meat producers are focused not on mass production of a product but on organic, sustainable methods of meat production, which also has the welcome effect of leading to better tasting meat.
This phenomenon has been well-documented. For example, free-range and organic chickens have a much richer taste because the animals have been allowed to develop good muscles through enjoying a healthy lifestyle, focused on natural feed and not involving routine antibiotics. The same applies to free-roaming, pasture-fed cows. Free range beef has been found to be higher in Vitamin E than mass produced beef, and thereby offers more protection against toxins and neurological diseases.
Sheep can also benefit from the same organic, natural treatment, in which they are allowed to roam free on hillsides, while free range pigs, raised without the use of drugs such as antibiotics and wormers that are common in intensive farming methods, produce a taste that is entirely different to the sometimes bland products available in your local supermarket.
Modern organic English meat producers, who are focused on sustainable methods of rearing, and environmentally friendly practices can now supply a huge variety of meats, both fresh and frozen, to suit every taste. Ordering meat through a delivery service such as this gives you access to fresher food that is usually fully traceable.
Some specialise in different areas of the industry, but all of them offer the convenience of high quality meat that is just as good as any you will find in your local butcher’s. Here are some of the best of England’s meat delivery box suppliers.
Knepp Wild Meat
Knepp Wild Range Meat is a producer based in West Sussex and they provide a fantastic build-your-own meat box service. The product is drawn from the animals kept on the remarkable 3,500-acre Knepp estate, which has been rewilded, and offers a home to a careful selection of animals that were introduced onto the land and have since been left to their own devices.
There are no natural predators on this farm land, and the deer, cattle and pigs are culled each year to produce an impressive array of wild range meat, which includes everything from grassy steaks and fennel-scented sausages to their beautifully marbled bacon. The meat provided is full of flavour and nutritionally rich, and provides a modern unique take on the traditional meat producing process.
Piper’s Farm was set up in 1989 and has the reputation as one of the best online butchers in the UK. They source their meat from small family-run farms based in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall. Quality is the key to their success, and they offer plenty of free range and grass fed options, including wild game.
When you buy from Piper’s Farm, you can go for mixed meat boxes or choose roasts and cuts as you would with a high street butcher. The variety provides something for everyone, from sausages to a saddle of venison, and all of it is top-quality meat, slow-reared by people who really care about animal welfare, which reflects in the taste and texture.
They also offer more unusual produce such as bones, offal and cuts of fat, which are ideal to produce your own gravy or stock with, and they provide a genuine beef suet.
All of the meat they provide is hung and then blast-chilled so it’s fresh-frozen for better taste and texture, while all portions and cuts are individually wrapped to minimize waste.
As well as the fantastic range of meat ,they also offer artisan cheese and other items like pastries and marmalade, so it is almost possible to do a full weekly shop. Piper’s Farm provide free delivery to almost everywhere in the UK and their courier offers a 1-hour delivery window, while the packaging can be collected and recycled with your next delivery.
Musclefood began life as a sports supplements and high-protein snacks provider, but then expanded into the online butcher market and judge by per-unit costs, they are arguably the cheapest online butcher in the UK.
If you want to buy meat online in bulk then they have an excellent reputation as providers of multibuy and bulk meat, making it possible, for example to buy meat by the kilo. You can buy chicken breasts of varying sizes, along with other popular meat such as mince, steaks, and sausages, which include grass fed and free range options. Those who are concerned about fat intake can also opt for the ‘super lean’ versions of almost any type of meat, from mince to bacon.
Musclefood specialise in “hampers” in which you can mix several meats in bulk at a very competitive price and you will also sometimes find buy two, get one free hamper offers.
In addition, they stock fish, both fresh and frozen, along other snacks, drinks and supplements aimed at those slimming, bodybuilding, or just trying to be healthier. Every product is individually reviewed by other customers, and delivery, which is within 24 hours, covers most UK locations.
Riverford Organic are well known for their organic vegetable box scheme. However, many people don’t realist that Riverford also sell organic meat boxes. If you want a good all round solution on getting organic meat and food products delivered without a trip to the shops, then a combination of their veg and meat boxes may be a good option.
Riverford only sell 100% organic, free range meat, all of which is reared in the UK. They offer a range of quick cook, grass fed and free-range cuts in their boxes, including beef fajita strips, quick-fry steaks and chicken mini fillets that are designed to be cooked and ready in half an hour, which is ideal for busy people who still want to cook from fresh, but not spend ages doing it.
There are many different types of box, ranging from boxes for single diners up to bulk buys for the family. You can also choose items that are in season in the UK if you are aiming to cook for seasonal dishes and delivery is free if they deliver in your location.
Based in the Lake District, Primal Meats offer nutrient dense meals for eco-omnivore diets. This means their meat is sourced from very high welfare farms, where the animals are 100% pasture raised and grass fed: a good option for anyone who wants a more ethical way of eating meat.
Every cut of meat comes with its own QR code enabling you to trace everything about the animal, right back to the farm it was reared on, including details of the farm’s management practises. Most of the products stocked by Primal Meats have been certified to organic standards.
As well as the regular cuts of beef, pork and chicken, they offer a range of rarer products, including bone broth and goose, and the well-thought out boxes ensure that no part of the animal is wasted.
Their box range includes some that are ideal for couples, some for feeding families and some that are full of surprise items, which allows you to try new ideas and different cuts.
Deliveries are roughly weekly, at a flat rate, although as they are a small business sourcing from a small number of high-quality farms, many of their products are prepared to order, and this sometimes take a little longer; the wait is definitely worth it!
Heartier is an unusual butcher’s website since it doesn’t just offer deliveries from one butcher. Their meat is sourced from a number of hand-picked quality producers around the country, which means that their range of meats is broader than the average online butcher.
For example, you can order a whole animal, which has separated into recommended cuts and joints if you wish, along with many grass fed and free range options. It is also possible to buy individual cuts as you would at a butcher’s shop, or you can choose from their selection boxes or hampers.
Heartier regularly provide discount offers on different types of meat, which makes them an ideal producer if you are looking to stock up for a competitive price. Every product page also tells you the breed, the producer and the origin of the meat, while deliveries are free.
The Great British Meat Company
This is one of the most popular online butchers, boasting consistently good reviews across the board for their meat, service and prices. All their meat is raised in the UK and their selection provides all of the most popular products: steaks, burgers, wild game, sausages and popular joints and roasts.
The Great British Meat Company are an ideal option if you are looking for cheap bulk deals; perfect if you can freeze or store a lot of meat at home in your freezer. They also have a dedicated lean meat section which is aimed at those buying meat for a high-protein diet.
Unlike some other online providers, they don’t offer a huge range of other products, such as charcuterie or associated products like pies, but if you’re just looking for a simple, affordable meat source, they are a great option.
Grid Iron Meat
If steak is your thing, then Grid Iron Meat have everything you need, thanks to their provision of high quality native breed meat that has been aged for 28 days in a Himalayan salt chamber.
Impressively, their prices are very competitive compared to regular steak products, and they also stock a wider range of free range meat, along with many traditional cuts of chicken, lamb, pork, smoked products and charcuterie.
Grid Iron Meat are also known for providing relatively hard to obtain cuts, such as beef briskets or pigs trotters, along with pork shoulders and other cuts suitable for smoking and curing.
All their products come locally sourced from North Yorkshire, are native breeds, and are prepared the day before dispatch so that they are delivered to you freshly butchered. The company focuses on reproducing the local butcher experience through the internet, so you can order special items or ask any questions you may have, while delivery is free in the UK if you spend a minimum amount.
Farmison & Co have earned the ‘Best Online Butchers of the Year’ award on more than one occasion and have also landed a variety of other awards and it is not hard to see why.
All their meat is sourced from heritage breeds raised in the UK and is cut and butchered to order.
They also provide the option of bespoke butchery if you were planning a dinner party, in order to ensure all portions are the same size.
Farmison’s meat boxes are unlike those you will find elsewhere, as they contain more than just the cut of meat you’ve ordered. Their partnership with wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd enables them to provide the meat, drink and accompaniment all in one, which is ideal for special occasions. For example, at Easter time you can buy a premium lamb rack that is provided with artisan mint sauce, Himalayan black salt, and a bottle of fine claret.
For those who are looking for a more standard offering they provide a Three Sunday Roast box or a Breakfast In Bed box that contains all you need for these meals. And, you can order standard meat cuts on their own such as steak, chops, mince, sausages and roasts.
One of the most appealing aspects of their site is that you can pick which native breed meat you’d like. For example, if you want fillet steaks, you can then select from a variety of sources, including Hereford, Dexter, Aberdeen Angus and so on, and you will also find out what part of the country the meat has been sourced from, which is a great feature.