Startup AgLocal announced Wednesday it will offer a meat subscription service for consumers that will start shipping May 21. The move is a shift from AgLocal's original business model, a marketplace that connected regional ranchers with restaurants.
"That was a model that wouldn't scale effectively," founder and CEO Naithan Jones told Fast Company, noting the marketplace was shut down about two months ago. "Restaurant margins are thin, and because restaurants require credit to operate, we recently switched to this model."
The monthly subscription service available in the West Coast includes two tiers of boxes that ship from a cold-storage facility in San Francisco. For $85, consumers will receive six pounds of sustainably-raised meat directly to their doors, or they can opt for the 12-pound box for $150. To meet demand, AgLocal will limit the number of subscriptions at launch, expecting to fully open the service to all of the West Coast in about four months. Customers will be able to choose among different styles of boxes, including Family Style, meats suited for cooking in the kitchen; Grill Master, meats for barbecuing; Fit and Lean, which includes leaner cuts; and Farmer's Pick, unusual cuts of meat not typically found in grocery stores, such as offal. Independent farms will receive 60% of revenue from each box. The company also plans to open up a facility in Chicago and expand to the Midwest later this year, Jones said.
Named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies, AgLocal aims to eventually sell individual cuts directly to consumers, but doesn't have the scale to do so effectively yet. Selling meat a la carte is "absolutely where we want to be," Jones said. "We feel once we're at scale, we can start building storefronts, or allowing farms to build storefronts online—almost like an Etsy for farms."