Meat lovers rejoice! A new members club hit UK shores this month targeted at people who can’t get enough meat. Carnivore Club is the ‘world’s first online artisan charcuterie members club’, the brainchild of entrepreneurial Canadian meat afficionado Tim Ray, who launched the concept in Canada and the US in 2013.
Now he’s joined forces with Sean Cannon (pictured), founder of British-based charcuterie purveyor Cannon & Cannon, to satisfy the needs of the nation’s carnivores through the club’s home delivery box scheme. Each month, for a fee of £29 per month (or £32 for a one-off box), subscribers receive a selection of four to six handcrafted cured meats from producers across Britain, along with a handbook about the contents. Cannon, a former actor, initially launched a home delivery service for meat lovers (called Meat Club) in September last year, and though the operation was profitable it was getting in the way of the day-to-day operations of Cannon & Cannon.
“The problem with our model was e-commerce isn’t what we do,” he explains. “Our skills are about working with producers and restaurants and running market stalls. We knew we weren’t set up to do this and we realised it wasn’t going to be sustainable.”
Unbeknownst to Cannon, about the same time Meat Club was getting out of the blocks, Ray was launching Carnivore Club in Canada after he received backing from crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. “Ray is really into his charcuterie, but he’s also really clever technically and he’s developed a really good model that offers much better support to producers.”
“We want as many people as possible in the UK to taste British charcuterie”
The beauty of Carnivore Club’s model is its simplicity, says Cannon. Rather than someone at Cannon & Cannon having to package up individual boxes, the producers choose what goes into them. “We send them the boxes and the handbooks that tell subscribers all about the producer and their meat, they put the meat into the box and then we send the courier out to collect the boxes and deliver them.”
As with previous Carnivore Club launches, the UK business - which is part of a Europe-wide joint venture between Ray and Cannon - was funded on Indiegogo, exceeding the £7,500 funding target by over £2,500 thanks to contributions from more than 150 people. “UK take-up has been phenomenal,” says Cannon. “Our funding was around 130% and it’s really gathered momentum as more people have got to know about it.” Subscribers received their first box this month from one of five farms, though Cannon hopes to expand the producer base. “We’re confident we will have 10 producers pretty quickly,” he explains. There are currently about 40 to 70 charcuterie producers in Britain at the moment, with new entrants cropping up all the time. And that’s the whole point of the venture, says Cannon.
“We want as many people as possible in the UK to taste British charcuterie. People assume that prosciutto has to come from Italy and chorizo from Spain, but it doesn’t any more. People have got to get past that. We can make it here in the UK and we can make it the best in the world.”