Thank you for taking an interest in our Mission and how it came about. When I first started the business in 2010, I didn't even know what a Mission Statement was but I knew that I wanted my business to be meaningful and distinct. Following my intuition, I was able to make fast decisions about what was right for the business because the choice was clear— it's free range or nothing. A simple philosophy that we, as butchers with a conscience, still live by.
Years on, whilst looking for a way to communicate who we are and why we are in business, we felt it would be advantageous to have a clear Mission. Something that verbalises what we have been living by since 2010. We worked on our Mission internally and it's taken about three years to get it to a point where I can finally say it's got me. This is the WHY! How did I get it to this point? Why did it take so long? Because I was looking at it from the wrong perspective.
Of course, I wanted it to be relevant to Cannings. I wanted it to be in 'our voice' but in the previous iterations of the Mission, although I thought we nailed it—it never really grabbed my heart. It wasn't until I decided to challenge every word and justify why each word (or phrase) belonged in the Mission, that I became undoubtedly clear on what the Mission was, or needed to be. That is why I decided to write this BLOG—to help me understand and crystallise the Mission of Cannings and give you some insight at the same time. Our Mission is WHY we are in business. It's how we came to be, how we conduct ourselves whilst in business, and hopefully, what we will be remembered for.
"As butchers with a conscience, we deliver Australia's most high welfare produce. Guided by our values and commitment to what is right, we're here to lead positive change".
What is a butcher with a conscience? I've always been a "softie" when it comes to animals. In actual fact, that was one of the reasons why I struggled to jump whole-heartedly into this industry. I was an ethical vegetarian in my early teens because I really didn't like the idea of an animal needing to give its life for my dinner. Although I am no longer a vegetarian, I have certainly not abandoned this way of thinking or feeling. I'm genuinely empathetic towards animals and I am ever grateful for their sacrifices so that we may nourish ourselves in the most holistic and complete way possible. I now see my unique position as a very fortunate one. I'm able to help shape the meat industry into something better than it was yesterday. I am very aware of this privilege and I will not waste the opportunity that I have been given.
How is Cannings produce the most high welfare in Australia? I wanted to state the obvious here and make it very clear that animal welfare is of the utmost importance to our mission. Our approach to sourcing is a Non-Negotiable and we simply make no compromises when it comes to animal welfare and the standards under which the animals are raised. We only partner with suppliers/producers who hold some of Australia's strictest accreditations. We accept nothing less than ruminants roaming freely over pasture, certified free range pork and chicken, and sustainably classified seafood.
What are your values? They're my beliefs and what I deem to be significant and important. It's how I choose to live my life and, in an ideal world, what I would like to pass down to future generations (personal and professional). It goes without saying that product quality, transparency and positivity are incredibly important attributes that underpin everything we do, but when I look deeper, it's kindness, care and genuineness that are at the very core of Cannings' values. A decision, a direction, an idea—has to be right. It has to feel right. It needs to be fair, balanced and well considered. Aside from the fact that I would like to believe these values flow-on through my business, into my team and their daily operations, I genuinely believe that these values lie within each and every one of them already.
What is this 'commitment' you speak of? After more than two decades in the retail meat industry, I have learned that it's very important to leave no stone unturned. To take nothing on face value. I've learned that it's very important to dig. To keep asking questions. To keep looking for the truth. Since Cannings' inception, I have made the effort to visit our producers' farms and processing facilities. It was very important for me to see it all with my own eyes—on behalf of my customers, with the philosophy of; if it is good enough for me and my family, then it is good enough for my customers and their families. This scrutiny, this effort, this care, is what I can offer the world. As the years have gone by, the things I look for whilst conducting farm and abattoir visits have become more pointed, more specific, and I have created two very important documents on which we base all of our procurement: The Cannings Selection Criteria (CSC) and the Cannings Supplier Declaration (CSD). The CSC is a series of specifications around product quality requirements and specifications. The CSD is a document which ensures that our suppliers' standards around animal welfare and environmental management completely align with the Cannings values.
We are also committed to serving and sourcing locally as a top priority. Our eight stores are located in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne and many of our team live locally to the stores we serve also. Our commitment to sourcing the highest welfare produce also takes local sourcing into consideration. If we can achieve the highest welfare through the most local option, then this is ideal! In some instances, this can't be met (examples include our beautiful Ora King Salmon that we source from New Zealand. Australian salmon options do not have the 'Green' sustainability status that we are committed to sourcing with our partner, the Good Fish Program).
What positive change does Cannings create? 'Positive change' isn't just reserved for monumental achievements—such as influencing how people choose their protein sources. Positive change can be tiny. It can be incremental. This is what I find really exciting. This is the point where I realised that we can make a real difference in literally everything we touch. Positive change is a smile. Positive change is a fast and cheerful email response to a question you need answered. It's the trust you can place in the response. Positive change is a long serving team member—someone who has been greeting you, year after year. Positive change is printing with 'eco' plant-based dyes, evaluating and reducing energy consumption, choosing renewable energy sources and offsetting unavoidable carbon emissions. Positive change is a long term relationship with a producer or supplier where visions and goals are aligned and mutually beneficial outcomes are achieved. Positive change is the mounting support for high welfare, free range produce and the vastly improved lives of millions and millions of animals around the world. With change comes opportunity. With opportunity comes hope.
- Sam Canning (founder)