Those who grew up in the country typically ate meat from someone they knew. Their neighbour, family, or friend who had a farm. This meat was shared amongst the people that grew the animal. If you were lucky, or did some favours, some got shared with you. Trouble was, you weren't allowed to buy the meat. This is because it was processed on the farm in a traditional way - Home-kill.
The meat we can buy, be it at a supermarket or farmers market, must be processed in a licensed abattoir, compliant with the Animal Products Regulations 2000. There are many large and some micro abattoirs across the country that provide the licensed processing service for farmers, mostly requiring the animals to be transported. These companies typically also package and brand the meat, and sell to wholesale (export and food service) or retail channels (supermarkets). Some farmers sell their meat direct to market, like those at your local farmers market.
Buying meat processed on farm would require Home-kill service providers to gain a licence to operate under the same regulations as the large abattoirs. While this has been the wish of many farmers and butchers, it is challenging operationally and administratively. Understanding these challenges, the Ministry of Primary Industries reviewed the regulations, with the aim of separating out the requirements for meat to be exported from meat that is to be purchased domestically.
This created the opportunity for the first ‘licensed home-kill service’ to be established and brought to market. So the first mobile abattoir was built, and duly licenced, and in December 2020 the first Home-killed meat was sold to the market. Earth First (then trading as Know Your Food) distributed the first animal to friends that had helped get the animal to market.
Eliminating the need to transport animals to an abattoir, a mobile abattoir results in much less stress for the animal. The Abattoir was recognised by the Judges at the Food Industry Awards who noted it was ‘“revolutionary, innovative, and addressed the needs of a significant domestic market”. They awarded it a Significant Contribution to Food Safety.
Traditional on-farm meat processing is not legally allowed for sale and purchasing meat requires transportation to a licensed abattoir.
To make it possible for farmers and butchers to sell meat processed on their farms while complying with regulations.
The Ministry of Primary Industries reviewed regulations and created the opportunity for a ‘licensed home-kill service’ to be established, resulting in the development of a mobile abattoir that eliminates the need to transport animals and reduces animal stress.