Do we love biltong? Yes. Is it perfect? We don’t think so, and that's why we have been working hard on new products that will move us further towards our mission. We want to end factory farming and limit our impact on the environment (more on that later). So yes, all the beef used for our biltong is sourced from British and Irish farms. Most people would ask, why not stop there? The British Isles have moderate climate and hilly grasslands that make it perfect for sustainable livestock farming. This means the vast majority of British and Irish farms feed their cattle a diet of 90% grass throughout their life. Our friend Joe Stanley, a farmer himself, wrote a great article if you want to know more - link here.
Grass fed cows in Suffolk
However, this is where the good news ends. Factory farming is growing here in the UK; it's already rife in poultry and pigs and the intensive beef production that is commonplace in the Americas is growing here in the UK. We want farms not factories. And the sad news? If you eat any meat snacks that don’t state the origin on pack or you like pork or poultry that doesn’t state a standard, you are probably eating factory farmed meat. Factory farming is a dirty business. It overlooks animal welfare (have you seen those pictures of poultry sheds that look like a horror show?), it destroys nutritional value and harms the environment in more ways than one.
Factory farmed pigs
So what challenge does biltong cause for Ember? We can't knock it for being seriously tasty, but it makes it hard to have close relationships with our farmers. We use a cut of meat called silverside so we are only using a small part of the total animal, and that means we need to be speaking to lots of producers. To add another dimension to the jigsaw, a large proportion of the supply chain is owned by large corporations that are inflexible. Sounds complicated right?
So what do our customers want? Well we've been speaking to a lot of you and here’s what we’ve found out. You want a healthy, high protein (meaty) snack that not only has the nutritional value to make you feel great but also gives you satisfaction knowing the meat has come from farms you can trust. So that’s what we've been working hard to achieve.
If you are enjoying this article, we recommend you check out the "What Is Biltong" guide.
Not only are we moving our biltong sourcing further towards our mission, we've also recently launched new products that put our mission front and centre. Factory farming is giving meat a bad name, but over and above that we want to positively impact the environment. Our new products are sliced beef using pasture centred organic beef that focuses on practices like rotational grazing and silvo pasture. Both are great for protecting our British wildlife. Pork slices from a farm that dedicates 50% of their land for the million bee project and wild venison that is essential for woodland conservation to protect nearly extinct British wildlife like the nightingale.
Outdoor reared piglets at Dingley Dell Farm in Suffolk. All the pork for our Salami Slices comes from this family run farm producing high welfare, outdoor reared, quality pigs.
It might sound too good to be true but trust us, it's not. It’s meat the way it’s meant to be.
So what can you do? You should know it by now. We are on a mission to end factory farming for good and want you to be part of the change.
Join us on pastures green.
Harry and Jack
We recommend reading our dedicated guide on "How to make biltong".