Meet Luke, Rory, Matt, and Tom, the two brothers and their best buds behind Barbell Foods, where their love for biltong intertwines with a commitment to health, sustainability, and ethical farming. Read on to learn more about how they came to create (in our opinion) the tastiest biltong around!
Can you tell us a bit about your business? How did you get started?
Co-founders Luke and Rory grew up eating biltong before they could walk; which is to say it was a typical South African upbringing. Arriving in Australia, they noticed a lack of their beloved childhood biltong - as well as changing consumer trends towards healthy, organic, and savoury snacks. And so in early 2016, Barbell Foods launched with Australian co-founders, Matt and Tom, with the mission to create the world’s largest organic meat snack company built on healthy, sustainable and ethically farmed meat.
How do you make your Biltong? What is your process?
For our biltong, we take large steaks of beef, marinate them in vinegar, press them with herbs and spices and hang them to air-dry at ambient temperatures. Over the course of a week, these steaks will lose half their weight, absorb the flavourful blend of the herbs and spices and transform into a nutrient-dense, delicious, convenient meat snack that can fit in your back pocket. We only use organic, grass-fed and finished, Australian beef and add no preservatives, sugars, gluten, soy or dairy.
What do you love about your work?
We love to work hard, and have a good time whilst at it. This means taking our business very seriously, in order to produce the best quality meat snacks possible, while at the same time, sprinkling in some cheeky fun at any chance possible. Whether it be an impromptu dance in the factory, a game of foosball at lunchtime, or a bit of friendly banter after work, we're always looking to balance the intensity of work with humour and playfulness.
How important is making organic/sustainable products to you?
Our primary goal is to create healthy, delicious and sustainable meat snacks, so creating organic and sustainable snacks is certainly important to us.
Our core mission is to support regenerative agriculture and farmers who are improving the soil health of their land. In using methods to restore biodiversity in soils - such as cattle rotation that mimics natural feeding patterns, and eliminating monoculture/overgrazing - the capacity of the soil to capture and store carbon is dramatically increased. Therefore, we only source our beef from regenerative agriculture farms.
The current farming standards in the beef industry are quite unethical (factory farming, for example), which are used in an attempt to maximise production whilst minimising costs (at the expense of the animal’s well-being). We are doing our best to help shift the industry towards more ethical practices of farming, which is why the cows from which we source our beef are completely grass-fed and finished, meaning that the cows are roaming freely and grazing on open pastures throughout the entire course of their lives.
Our products are also toxin-free as we only source and use organic and natural beef—you won’t find anything artificial in our biltong.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A bag of biltong, of course.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you to Spray-Free Farmacy for being huge supporters of our brand and products!