Disruption of the Meat Industry Starts with Breaking It

An upstart Canadian company looks to the success of the micro-beer industry to disrupt commodity meat through a unique closed-loop supply chain and their affordable plant designs. Janus Solutions hopes to bring more control back to livestock producers while providing more choice to meat consumers with “micro-meats”.

The Calgary, Canada based company was developed by beef industry experts, Larry Dalton, James Bradbury and entrepreneur, Jeff Ball. They saw an opening in the meat business for a more streamlined, brand oriented approach to bringing meat to market. Company President, Larry Dalton says, “We want to help smaller players get into the meat industry. We have developed dozens of proven processes from branding to construction and even work with off-take customers so the meat has a place to go”.

Innovative Process Solutions (IPS), is a full strategic partner for Janus Solutions located in South Africa, at the centre of where mid-sized meat processing becomes necessary. IPS provide design, process, engineering and are really the heart of the facility offered at Janus Solutions. Together with an alliance with Central Specialists Group, also from South Africa, IPS is able to extend this offering to logistics, planning and execution on a global scale. “The Janus Solutions partnership works both ways for us in that we can begin to offer added go-to-market services to the suite of services we already provide our global clients”, says Neal de Beer, Managing Director at IPS.

The facility itself is partially produced using modular building structures and traditional construction methods to reduce time to start up. The most technical structures are built in Finland by Kometos Oy using proprietary anti-bacterial plastics and stainless steel reinforced specialized foam core walls. Kometos also builds much of the equipment needed for these right-sized plants. “We were impressed by Janus Solution’s mission to change the food industry. Common ground was found easily and now, Janus Solutions is our valued partner in Canada and in this cooperation, we are establishing a sales and maintenance organization in North-America,” explains Risto Salo, Account Manager at Kometos Oy.

Modules from Titan containers of Denmark are also used to expand cooling space quickly and easily, while PHT a German pioneer in tailor-made hygiene solutions and Hungary based Celitron, a specialist in sterilization and bio-waste, look after state of the art food safety measures and rendering. Rounded off using locally based constructors, Janus Solutions enters the craft-meat market with their first model called “The Ultimate Harvest House” (UHH). The multi-species plant starts small at 50 head of cattle a day, but over time can be expanded to 250 head-per-day with modular, Lego-like, additions to the outside of the existing building. Build with today in mind, but expand the structure as needed, quickly and at reduced costs. The idea is to allow an entry point into an industry that up until now required massive investments.

“Building a purpose built structure is only the first step”, says Bradbury, “the meat industry tends to resist change, so our clients are usually mavericks who just want to make a huge difference, break norms”. They already know they want to move in another direction and build brands, but they don’t know the steps to get there”.

Jeff Ball thinks that larger, multinational meat processors will always have their place, but for meats to command higher values, smaller processors will need to infiltrate the market. “We need to democratize this industry so that livestock producers, like myself, have alternatives when we want to address consumers directly.”

The idea of an integrated supply chain brings up some easy ways to tackle perennial issues for meat. Labour and automation are easier to tackle with lighter production pressures. The elements of traceability and complete sustainability are achievable. Fair trade pricing and pricing transparency may be a reality? Even data collection in a closed-loop environment could be shared to the entire supply and value chain making everyone more efficient. Lastly, this kind of supply organization from farm-to-fork could create communication from consumers back through the supply chain so that products produced answer their needs. It forms the possibility of pricing meat differently and even rewarding those in the industry that make a product that answers the public’s list of needs? Sharing profits becomes easier, when the supply and value chains are working as one as well? Cooperatives begin to look like the dynamic organizations they always wanted to be?

“We currently use purchasing characteristics like grading, price per kilo and production characteristics as product features to consumers”, says Bradbury, “but we aren’t convinced that works?” Bradbury thinks this is a branding problem. “It’s a price race to the bottom if our industry doesn’t retool to a branding strategy. Either that or higher pricing without branding meat becomes the next King Crab Leg that you only see on cruise ships and buffets.” Creating an entirely self-sustaining business eco-system may be the only way to open the meat market to greater competition, greater control by livestock producers and getting fresh brands into the market that command higher values, maintains Dalton.

Earlier today Janus Solutions launched its business publicly and have showcased it with a super informative website that outlines opportunities and how they solve them.