NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — You can buy just about everything else over the Internet, including fruits and vegetables, so why not cuts of meat?
A couple Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs have launched a business to do just that — to match select cuts of beef and pork with consumers.
Calling their project “HooftyMatch,” they operate a website that allows consumers to choose the cuts they want and place an order. The product arrives to their home or business through the UPS.
Jonathan Yale and his business partner, Phillip Williams, work with local farmers and meat processors to help meet the needs of consumers who like a fresh cut, when and how they want it.
While it is common for consumers to buy and freeze a quarter or half of a carcass, not everyone can handle that much meat, and some only want certain cuts. A problem for farmers and processors, though, is that the more individualized the cut, the more record keeping and labor to get the product to market.Marketing made easy. That’s where HooftyMatch comes in, by serving as the marketer and record keeper for the product.
“What we’re trying to do is solve the pains of both the processor and the farmer,” Williams said. “Most people aren’t going to buy half of a cow, and the people who are, they aren’t going to buy from us in the first place. We’re going after the 80 percenters — the person who goes to the grocery store — they grab that piece of meat and they wonder, ‘where did that come from.’”
Yale and Williams admit to being newbies when it comes to farming and how animals are raised, but they make an effort to visit each of the half-dozen or so farms from which they currently receive product.
“We just go there to get a feel for how their operation is,” Williams said.
Williams said his knowledge about the grass-fed concept is vastly improving and he’s visited the meat lab at Ohio State University to see how meat is processed. While he is still learning about farming, he has a leg up on cooking — the other part of the business.
Yale and Williams recently started marketing prepared meals through the Internet and at select events, through a division of their company called HooftyPlates. The meals are cooked and prepared by Williams and placed in microwavable, dishwasher-safe plastic containers.
All the buyer has to do is heat and eat.
Williams’ cooking skills have earned him a new title. In addition to being the chief technical officer — a CTO — he also is “chief tasty officer.”
“I love to cook, I love to eat, I love food so it’s a very big passion of mine,” he said.
The idea for HooftyMatch began at a business brainstorming event sponsored by LaunchHouse — an investment and business accelerator company located in Shaker Heights.
Williams and Yale discovered they had similar business interests, as well as an overall interest in the local foods market and supplying quality food from farmer to consumer.
Yale said he realized that with food, not everything is told on the label. His goal is to go beyond the label, and connect consumers to quality food.Interacting with consumers. A big part of that is through interaction. Although sales at HooftyMatch are generally conducted online, its founders continue to spend a large part of their time meeting and interacting with farmers, as well as consumers.
“For this kind of product, people want interaction,” Yale said. “So we’ve been learning how to blend those two things (food and interaction) together.”
In February, HooftyMatch held a tasting event at The Black Pig restaurant in Cleveland. Other tasting events, as well as some charities, are being planned.One of the problems the two young businessmen have encountered — although it’s also a mark of success — is that they sometimes run out of meat. They’re interested in meeting quality livestock farmers who want to supply and sell meat through the local foods market. Currently, demand for HooftyMatch product is outpacing supply.
Farmers can contact HooftyMatch directly if interested, and Yale and Williams are also making visits to farms.
HooftyMatch is available online at www.hooftymatch.com. HooftyPlates, which sells prepared meals, is available at www.hooftyplates.com For more information, call 440-610-9314.