In mid July, we visited with Kevin Green of Green’s Meat Market in Wingham who share lots of great information about his business.
Kevin told us why the cost of beef was so high and raising, stating it was basic supply and demand. The Western (Canada) drought, the fall-out of the BSE (Mad Cow Disease) crisis of few couple of years ago (no cows, therefore no calves) and an increase in population has resulted in a shortage of Canadian beef.
And, although beef prices have not increased for many years even with inflation. But, so far this year, Green’s have increased prices three times – just that morning raising the price of New York Strip steaks from $9.95 to $11.55.
Selling sides and quarters of beef is the largest part of the Green Family business although it is slowly declining each year due to home dining trends and demand for more specific types of cuts. In addition to the home site in Wingham, there is also a retail business in Lucknow and a wholesale outlet through the Old Hwy 86 Farmer’s Market. Green’s also export to a European market and sell direct to local restaurants, nursing homes and meat shops.
Green told us how American beef is subsidized so the government sets the market price, guaranteeing a profit. In Canada there are no guarantees.
Cattle are bought from Brussels Livestock although his sister, who works for the family business, also raises cattle. Green’s do custom slaughtering where the farmer brings in an animal to be cut and wrapped to their specifications.
You can purchase frozen meat products Monday through Saturday, or fresh Thursday through Saturday. Each week the Green’s slaughter cattle — averaging 25 per week –on Monday, and pigs — 10-15 per week — on Tuesday. They also do custom cutting and wrapping of lamb, sheep and alpaca as well as wild game during hunting seasons. They recently expanded their plant in Wingham to allow for further processing in an effort to diversify their business. They now offer wieners, bologna, pepperettes and smoked sausages. Their own farmer’s sausage contain 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork meat that is cheaper and more moist. They are flavoured mild, medium, hot and honey garlic.
Green’s are the only butcher shop within 30 miles as many have closed due to the demands of significant industry changes and government regulations re food safety. The new plant offers a smoke house, a fermentation room, a drying room, dry storage and bigger freezers (one large freezer holds up to 100 cattle beasts) Technology is implemented to monitor the processing plant, saving enormous amounts of time.
Regulations around food service are constantly changing and incur huge demands on food processors. Food safety concerns are now being shadowed by Animal Welfare. The day does not begin until the federal and provincial inspectors have been on site to authorize slaughtering.
Beef is aged, pork is not. Aging time is determined by the amount of fat on a carcass. The more fat, the longer the aging … up to a maximum of 21 days. There is a natural enzyme in fat that breaks down the muscle to tenderize the meat. Typically a carcass will be aged 7-10 days.
The Green’s employ 19 including 7 trained butchers and 8-9 students. The Green’s prefer to train on site. Most of their staff are recruited from student workers who develop an interest and pursue a career.
This family business was started in 1971, when Kevin’s dad purchased the business from Percy Deyell. Dad was taught by a German master butcher while he was employed with Bruce Packers from Paisley. He retired in 2006. Kevin and his sister Sherry now operate the business.
Kevin has a passion for this businesses citing the “family” aspect as important to him. He touts “Buy Local, Buy Fresh” knowing that by doing so consumers will support their local economy. He works with local food banks, offering great deals for cutting and wrapping animals that are donated by altruistic farmers each and every month.
Green’s Meat Market & Abattoir
237 Arthur St.
Wingham, ON N0G 2W0
VENISON TRIVIA: Venison caught by hunters is not considered ‘meat’ … it is called ‘game’ and therefore does not require inspection. It is kept separate in the processing plant.
From November to March 2014,