Words Denise Irvine

The only meat that Julie McDade’s seven-year-old son Ben will eat is mince. Luckily for him, his mum now has a steady source of delicious, premium quality beef mince at her fingertips to make tasty burgers, meatballs and spag bol for her lad.

Julie McDade is the business development manager for Waikato-based beef exporter Greenlea Premier Meats, and last year the company launched an online butcher shop which sees its export quality products packed to order and couriered to home-customers throughout the urban North Island.

There are eight different boxes of carefully chosen Greenlea cuts to choose from—at affordable prices—and among them is the My Kids Will Only Eat Mince Box, comprising 12 x 500g packs of premium beef. This truly has Ben’s name on it. And many other kids as well. “It’s turned out to be our best-seller; it’s beautiful mince,” says Julie.

Other beefy treats from Greenlea Butcher Shop include the Fast & Fiery Box with sirloin and scotch steaks; Low & Slow with short ribs, brisket and beef cheeks; Feed the Family, with mince, rump steak, diced beef and stirfry strips; a box of barbecue cuts, and more. Customers can also create their own box, choosing from 24 different Greenlea cuts, from top to tail of the beast.

Julie enjoys the Create Your Own Box as well as the mince combo. She ordered flank steak recently and remembered a tasty recipe made by her father in his native Georgia, in the United States:  marinade the flank in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and a little port (prick the meat with a fork to let the liquid seep in); cook it in one piece on the barbecue (about four minutes each side), rest it, then slice thinly against the grain to serve.

Greenlea—the country’s fourth biggest beef exporter—launched its online shop at the Fieldays in Hamilton last year after noting a gap in the home market for premium export quality beef. The bulk of its beef products—about 30,000 tonnes annually—are exported worldwide to more than 40 countries.

Says Julie: “We thought we should give people the opportunity to buy this fantastic meat locally. It’s also about adding value. Anything we can do to add value to every single product makes sense.”

The butcher shop’s boxes are cut and packed to order at Greenlea’s Hamilton plant, drawing on beef from the company’s 5000 mainly central North Island suppliers of prime grass-fed Angus, Hereford and crossbred cattle.

Customer growth has been steady and consistent since the launch, and beef boxes have recently been joined in the ‘shop’ by two premium lamb boxes (barbecue and slow-cooking cuts) via a relationship between Greenlea and specialty sheep meat company Ovation. Keeping it local, the lamb for Greenlea’s boxes is from Te Kuiti Meat Processors.

Greenlea is particularly proud of its Waikato connections, and the family nature of its business. It was founded by Peter Egan, originally from Gisborne, whose family ran a butcher shop in the city. In 1993, Peter developed Greenlea’s first plant in Hamilton (off Kahikatea Drive), and he added a second one (in Morrinsville) to the business in 1997.

Greenlea remains staunchly family-owned; Peter’s son James is chairman of Greenlea’s board of directors and Tony Egan, Peter’s nephew, is managing director. The company supports its community through the Greenlea Foundation Trust, and it is principal sponsor of the Taupo-based Greenlea Rescue Helicopter.

Says Julie: “The company has a real family feel to it.” This is now trickling down to Kiwi families who like a darn good meal of mince, and other top quality beef cuts.


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