2021 winners follow up: The Ethical Butcher, Digital Innovator of the Year

With its unique concept, brand and powerful digital marketing, The Ethical Butcher has soared to success in a short space of time. Through the use of digital technology, Farshad Kazemian is reconnecting people with nature and challenging the noise around veganism.

Smithfield Market is where Farshad Kazemian went to learn the language when he first came to England in his 20s from Iran.

Although he had to be at his English language school by 9am, he could be found working (without pay) from 4am, standing at the front of a family friend’s shop in the historic London meat market.

“They told me this was the best place to learn the language; that I’d have to quickly learn to talk to people – and they were right,” remembers Farshad.

He went on to gain a master’s degree and spent 15 years in the wholesale meat industry, appreciating the journey throughout the supply chain.

“I learned everything apart from the actual butchery,” he recalls.

“I loved the business side of the meat industry, the buying and selling, staff – everything really. I have always been passionate about food.”

Farshad established the Exquisite Range in 2014 but as a one-person operation and with consumer demand growing, a restructure was needed.

So, he partnered with photographer and filmmaker Glen Burrows and the pair began crowdfunding for The Ethical Butcher, aimed at bringing low-emission quality meat from ethically raised stock to households across the UK via next day delivery.

Within 24 hours the pair had surged past their £350,000 mark to surpass more than £1 million investment from 242 investors. And while Farshad knew the meat business inside out, Glen came at the project from another angle.


Having been a vegetarian for 25 years, he had started to reintroduce meat into his diet to improve his health and as a result was very well-researched on ethical meat production.

As they developed their business strategy, the pair launched social media campaign Reganuary and saw their profile soar as a result.

Launched in January 2020 as a constructive push-back against Veganuary, the term was picked up globally and farmers and food production businesses all over the world who joined the cause in encouraging consumers for the whole of January to source as much of their food as possible from regenerative farming.

Reaching more than four million hits in its first year, the campaign was such a success the business’ Facebook page had more than 6,000 followers before it had even sold a single kilo of meat.

Regenerative farming claims to go beyond simply being sustainable. Its ethos is farming with nature, rebuilding ecosystems and locking carbon back into the earth.

“We believe these methods produce healthier food that tastes better in a way that is kinder to both the animals and the environment,” explains Farshad.

“Our message challenges the environmental vegan narrative that people need to stop eating meat to save the planet.

“Some of the producers are actually running carbon negative farms; locking away more CO2 and methane than is emitted.

“The farmers who supply their livestock to us are very visible within the business, with detailed descriptions of their farming methods on the company website and regular social media updates.”

Farshad firmly believes that Glen’s eye as a filmmaker has been a ‘game changer,’ not least because of the visual impact and positivity it makes on customers, existing and new.

“Our customers don’t just want to read about our farmers – they want to see them,” says Farshad.

Alongside the farmer profiles is expert advice on how to cook often overlooked cheap cuts of meat and offal; encouraging customers to utilise the whole carcase, rather than just showcasing the prime cuts.


The Ethical Butcher is a fully digital business, with no shop front, yet their subsequent creativity and success saw them named Digital Innovator of the Year last year.

The business uses all the usual social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and, with Glen’s background in video production, YouTube is an area they are having huge success with. The business hasn’t used TikTok yet, but is looking at it and is also starting to produce podcasts.

Insight is key and all the digital content published is the result of meticulous tracking and responding to the evolving changes daily.

“We use a data analyst to see exactly what is working digitally,” explains Farshad. “We know what word has been searched on Google the most each day and don’t just create content and hope for the best – it is all thoroughly thought out. We know what works and what our audience will respond to.”

Although it is a digital business, Farshad credits ‘human contact’ as one of the key ways the company engages with customers.

“We can see if a meat delivery is going to be late in arriving,” explains Farshad. “Rather than doing nothing or sending an email, there will be an in-person telephone call to the customer to explain the situation.”

Farshad also credits human interaction, be it a farmer’s story about how he rears his animals or a video about a recipe, for building up the customer base.

“We have been very lucky that people don’t just order from us once and then disappear,” says Farshad.

“Over our two years of trading we have customers who have ordered 80 times.”

The business, which for animal welfare and taste purposes has the animals slaughtered locally to each supplying farm and then hung before being sent to its London premises to cut and distribute, has 14 people on the payroll plus uses various consultants. Its first year of trading posted a £1 million turnover.

With regard to future plans, Farshad has set himself the target of ‘changing the industry’ to a more superior level.

“I want people to talk about farmers as food heroes, the same way they talk about wine growers,” he says.