Ordering meat online: a good idea or a bloody mess?

Updated on 25 October 2011 | 0 Comments

If you're a meat lover, ordering your meat online could be a better alternative to hitting the supermarket.

We’ve all been there: picking over tiny morsels of chicken, stringy cuts of beef and sad excuses for pork tenderloin at our local Tesco, eventually resigning ourselves to the fact that we may never be able to bring home a quality piece of meat without paying through the nose for it.

Thankfully, our culinary saviour, the Internet, is here to help. Now, along with shoes and office supplies, you can also buy a restaurant-quality joint of beef online and have it shipped right to your door.

For the past 26 years, Westin Gourmet has been selling high-grade meats to eateries all over the country. However, a year ago, it decided to expand its operation and sell those same top choice cuts directly to British consumers via the Internet.

But is online meat peddling a legitimate alternative to shopping at your local supermarket? Or is ordering your steak through an Internet delivery service just a big, bloody mess?

How to order

Whether you’re planning a dinner party in three weeks’ time or want a nice piece of beef for a Sunday roast, you can order your meat of choice online and pick which day you’d like it delivered – up to a month in advance. 

The meat is delivered in specially sealed and chilled packaging, which can keep your meats fresh – without refrigeration – for up to 72 hours if the package isn’t opened.

And you won’t be removing the feathers from any chicken delivered to your door, according to Phillip Bridgen, marketing manager at Westin Gourmet.

“You’re not getting a great big bloody mess of meat,” he says. “Our meat is sent to consumers the same way restaurants get it: it comes pre-prepared, the fat is removed and all you have to do is cut it into portions.”

Delivering the goods

Westin Gourmet offers great flexibility when choosing the day you want to receive your delivery, including offering Saturday as an option. Unfortunately, however, the company can’t guarantee the actual time of day the delivery is made at the moment. That said, a quick check around other suppliers within the industry shows this is the norm, and in fact, Westin Gourmet's Saturday delivery option gives them the edge over most.

Standard delivery charge is £3.75 (this is the cheapest in the industry), but if you order over £75 worth of meat, it’ll deliver your order free of charge.

The savings

So what’s a restaurant-quality lamb chop going to set you back?

“Our prices are comparable to supermarkets,” says Bridgen. “There’s not a huge saving, but there is a massive difference in quality.”

If you want to get the most for your money and while taking home some high-quality meat, the real deal is buying in bulk.

“We sell to the consumer at wholesale prices, [something] none of our competitors are doing,” says Bridgen. “Consumers are coming round to the idea of buying in bulk and they are seeing the savings.”

For example, a serving of Tesco's Finest Sirloin Steak costs £5.08; at Westin Gourmet, a serving of Hereford Sirloin Butchers Cut will set you back £6.49.

But if you buy 2kg worth of steak at Westin Gourmet, you'll only pay £5.92 per serving - which means you get restaurant-quality beef for just 84p more per serving!

The quality

The real selling point for buying meat online however isn’t just financial; it’s about the taste experience, according to Bridgen.

“You get a lesser cut of meat in supermarkets; even Finest ranges are not the best quality.

“When you go into a restaurant, you can taste the difference with a good steak or chicken breast. You can’t make a restaurant-quality meal without a good cut of meat. This is what we’re giving to our customers.”

Sussing out the competition

Of course, Westin Gourmet isn’t the only company offering a meat delivery service. In fact, a quick Internet search will show dozens of companies in the UK doing the same thing.

Some other online meat-to-consumer distributors include:

Donald Russell

By far the largest and most established brand in the market, the majority of the meat Donald Russell sells is shipped frozen to consumers in order to manage the huge delivery volumes and comes with a heftier price tag. 

Douglas Willis

This Wales-based business offers high-quality meats at a similar price to Westin Gourmet. Douglas Willis also offers two retail outlets located in Cwmbran. 

Clare Barry

A supplier of budget meats at the lower end of the quality and price range, Clare Barry carries a good range of meat that's a cut above what you would expect to see in any high street supermarket. 

Well Hung Meat Co

Focusing on Organic meat, the Well Hung Meat Co carries a limited range that is predominately sold in boxes and sent out monthly. The quality of its meat is good, although you’ll pay a premium for the organic label.

Whatever your tastes, meat-lovers no longer have to put up with mass-produced, lower-quality stock from supermarkets: the perfect home-cooked, restaurant-quality steak is now but a click away.

What do you think about ordering meat online? Is it worth the value or a waste of time?

Also worth your attention:

Five traditional British dishes

The best supermarket Bolognese sauces

The secret cloned meat in your food

Photo courtesy of Westin Gourmet


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