Based in Essex, the business exports meat to 19 different countries, processes an average of 2,500 orders a week and employs 120 staff.
Direct Meats managing director Martin Blackwell said: “To be awarded the Queen’s award is testament to our hard-working staff and the farmer/producer brands we work with, who allow us to export their products. We are classed as a small and medium-sized enterprise and to receive an award with global standing recognises our innovative movement into an incredibly challenging global market.
“It also means a lot as a representative of small British farmers who believe in sustainable, traditional methods.”
Blackwell said the application process for the award took around two years but the work began well before that. “It took 20 years of building the infrastructure and getting the business in a position to appeal to a global market where we began exporting in 2015. The process in applying for the award itself has taken two years where we had to prove excellence in several areas.
“First of all, showing growth in the exports market was a vital factor. Since 2015, we have opened up business with 19 countries, the latest being Canada. We showed a unique and innovative side to how we do things. We aren’t aware of other export companies like ours who train butchers in other countries, showing care towards not only our own team but our customers too. This puts British business at the forefront because the staff we sell our product too know how to create unique dishes and get the very best out of the product we supply.”
Blackwell said that proving sustainability was also vital to winning the Queen’s Award.
“Another key part of obtaining the award was proving how we promote sustainable farming methods, minimising negative environmental impact. Working with small-scale farmers who farm in traditional ways, and not on large, high-intensity farms, is vital to our brand and is important in selling our product.”
Speaking to GlobalMeatNews, Blackwell explained what sets the business apart.
“What we are selling isn’t a commodity and isn’t something that can be imported from just anywhere in the world. Selling pork in Sweden or beef in Hong Kong for example is reliant on our promotion of what are high-end, expensive brands. We have worked for many years with local, sustainable farmers whose brands have appealed to markets around the world.”
Promoting the award
Direct Meats will be allowed to promote the Queen’s Award via a kitemark on its packaging and advertising materials.
Blackwell said this will be massively positive for Direct Meats, especially when promoting the business. “The most immediate benefit will be the use of the kitemark on our packaging and advertising material which will have the biggest impact when communicating this award with our new and existing customers.
“The award gives credibility to the business as a brand and this will help build our profile on a global stage. We hope this will open more doors in existing as well as new markets. It’s a recognised standard on a global scale and when approaching new customers we can prove an immediate high-standard, high-quality product and service recognised at a top level.”
Blackwell told GlobalMeatNews that the business won’t be resting on its laurels and will continue to seek out opportunities. “For us, the key to a successful exporting business has been to understand the market in the country we are selling to and to then produce relevant products catering to specific cultures,” he said. “The demands and tastes of Japan are very different to that of Europe, for example. We are continuing to be innovative in many ways, focussing now on progression in our charcuterie products and cooking, as well as our butchery methods.”