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The Brightside: Cleaver & Co. 

The Brightside: Cleaver & Co. 

Cleaver & Co. Quality Meats based in Wollongong puts sustainability at the heart of their business practice. Its founder Lachy, is the driving force behind a butchery that showcases the country’s best producers and their produce. 

Tell us about your local butchery, Cleaver & Co.

Cleaver & Co is a strictly whole animal butchery that supplies customers with high-quality nutrient dense meat from ethically and sustainably run farms. Cleaver and Co also discourage the use of single use plastics by packaging their meats in compostable bags and encouraging customers to BYO containers. 

How did Cleaver & Co. come to be? 

My wife and I started Cleaver & Co. in 2016 after purchasing a rundown butcher shop. At that stage in my butchery career, I was pretty jaded about all the ‘greenwashing’ and half-truths getting thrown around by meat companies about the providence and quality of their product. I’d seen a few anti-meat documentaries, and while I didn’t see a meat-free life as a viable biological option, I knew that there had to be a shift in the way people sourced and consumed meat. 

There was nowhere in Wollongong truly doing anything different in this aspect, so I really didn’t see anywhere for myself to be able to work. I came to a crossroads in my life where I could either plunge myself into the world of small business, or leave the trade all together and pursue a career in furniture making. I chose the shop, and here we are today!

What makes Cleaver & Co. different from other typical butcher shops or the meat we can get at the grocery shops?

Though similar on the surface, Cleaver & Co. is vastly different to most butcher shops around. While most shops and supermarkets purchase their meat through a convoluted system involving wholesalers and middlemen, we source all our meat directly from farms that are doing the right thing by their animals and the land they raise them on. This gives us all the answers when the consumer is curious or concerned about the origins of their protein. 

Most butcheries will also supplement or completely purchase their meat in boxes, meaning the balance of cuts obtained from a whole cow is lost, plus a whole lot more packaging is created. Dealing directly with farmers means our meat can only come as whole animals. If the ‘good bits’ sell out, that’s it! We feel this is a much more natural way to sell meat and gives the customer a sense as to how much more there is to a cow than the half a dozen cuts they’re familiar with. 

Why is sustainability so important in your industry and business?

A huge question. So big that many have written entire books on this topic. I would recommend Matt Evans’ book “On Eating Meat” for anyone further interested. Sustainability is important to the meat industry as the world continues to struggle to feed its population without compromising the natural world around us. 

Parts of our industry have rightly been condemned for their poor track record environmentally. The meat industry not only has to consider the effect it’s having on the earth but also the lives of the animals being raised for consumption. In the age of technology, the once sheltered urban consumer has unprecedented access via the media to the dirty underbelly of meat production. 

It is of the utmost importance to our business that we don’t contribute to the destruction of our natural world in the name of meat production. A few bucks saved on a cheap nasty chicken breast is a shortsighted financial decision that ultimately can support the demise of unseen natural ecosystems.

You are all about supporting and shopping locally. Why?

So many reasons! Shopping locally keeps local people in jobs around the area. Keeping these people in jobs keeps shops open. Open shops mean thriving villages and thriving communities. We dread a world without main streets and local shops where everyone’s shopping consists of faceless interactions on screens. We can’t imagine anyone really enjoying that kind of world.  

 Shopping locally can also have an environmental impact in regards to the carbon miles taken to get your shopping to you. Do you want meat from a farm in Camden? Or do you want meat grown in another state, cut by a person you’ve never met, then packaged in a plastic tray and trucked a thousand kilometres to your local supermarket?

Tips on being more sustainable when you cook? 

We do our best to source nutrient-dense, regeneratively raised meat for your dinner table. But once it’s out the door, it’s up to you! Store meat properly in the fridge or freezer, depending on when you want to use it. It is such a shame and waste of resources to let meat spoil before giving it the chance to nourish you and your family.  

Once stored correctly, make the most out of your meat! You bought it with your hard-earned dollars, so get your money’s worth! Don’t burn it, don’t throw away your leftovers, save the bones for a soup or broth, and save the fat for frying in. Get the maximum nutrients from this amazing food!


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