Taupo Beef took top honours at the 2015 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards – NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable NZ. Discover how Mike and Sharon Barton’s business has gone from strength to strength ever since.
About Taupo Beef
Mike and Sharon Barton established Taupo Beef to see if people would pay a premium for beef helping to preserve Lake Taupo.
Unsustainable farming damages waterways. But the Bartons feel placing the burden solely on farming could make it unviable, or lead to diluted water quality standards. They believe shoppers can be encouraged to make the right buying choices to support the changes needed.
Taupo Beef launched in 2011. Stock rates are low, reflecting the ‘nitrogen cap’ restrictions imposed by Waikato Regional Council. The brand’s claims on protecting water quality are backed by independent auditing and monitoring of farm practices. The use of Taupo Beef by high end restaurants and chefs has helped provide assurance of meat quality.
The result? Demand has consistently exceeded supply. It happened first in the Central Plateau region. Auckland and Wellington followed. It’s now nationwide. The business has responded by diversifying into Taupo Lamb.
Success over the past year
Taupo Beef is going from strength to strength. One year ago the business had three regular farmer suppliers. Today it has eight.
Mike and Sharon spoke about their business at TEDx Tauranga this year. Taupo Beef has just been signed up as a supplier to My Food Bag. A large pie maker is interested in using their beef. Taupo Beef features in Country Calendar’s book of the most influential stories of the year. And the International Beef Alliance has just visited the farm to learn about their model.
The Bartons attribute all these successes in some degree to their Award win.
“The SBN Award took us to new places a lot quicker than we would have done otherwise,” says Mike. “It gave us a lot of credibility. I feel our business has gained momentum as a result.”
Sharon adds: “At a personal level it gave us confidence that urban people are interested in our story. It gave us a huge boost of confidence.”
Watch Mike and Sharon’s TEDx talk: ‘Who is the real polluter: the farmer or the consumer?’
The year ahead
Sharon says: “We need to build on the conversations we’ve started with consumers so we understand each other’s perspectives. We’re meeting some of the environmental costs of production, but not all. How can we expect consumers to flick the switch and pay all those costs?”
“We’re looking at greenhouse gas emissions and what it might mean to internalise those costs.”
Mike adds: “We’re trying to finalise a business model that gives returns to farmer doing the right thing.”
The Bartons have a research facility on their farm. Landcare Research and Lincoln University are conducting a five year trial. It is looking at Lucerne and Manuka, and leaching rates of nitrogen through the soil. The facility has doubled in size this year.
Where you can buy Taupo Beef
Show your support for a restorative business that supports the environment by purchasing Taupo Beef and Taupo Lamb. Retailers stocking their products include:
- Farro Fresh, New World Remuera and Victoria Park
- Moore Wilson supermarket
- Nosh Mount Maunganui
- Country Providore
- Four Square outlets
Plus top restaurants nationwide.
The winners of the 2016 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards will be announced at an Awards ceremony in Auckland on 17th November. Discover who will be this year’s supreme winner by purchasing your ticket now!