A desire to see his cattle through the abattoir led Chris Balazs to co-found high-end beef company Provenir.

Story Bron Willis  Photos Jayne Newgreen

Fifteen years ago, first-generation Central Victorian cattle farmer Chris Balazs had what he calls a “sliding gate moment” that set him on the path to becoming the runaway success and beef industry changemaker that, in 2020, he and his five fellow Provenir founders became. It was 2005 and Chris had begun to move the first herd of cattle he’d ever raised into the yards, ahead of loading for transport to the abattoir.

“Over the two years I’d come to know those animals – raising them, feeding them, calving them – I’d always walked them along a concrete walkway and through this gate, which had always been open before, so that they could return to the yards,” Chris says. “But this day, the time had come to sell them. So, I turned the gate the other way and off they went, up the back of the truck. The truck drove off and I thought, ‘Well I’m a cattle farmer, that’s what I do. But I don’t know where my babies are going.’ And I didn’t like it. I was intensely unhappy about it.” It was a moment that shaped the next stage of Chris’s life, including lobbying for a change in Victorian meat-processing laws.

Each of the founders brought their own strength to Provenir, including a veterinarian, a chef, a barrister (whose skills came in handy during the lobbying process) and a marketer. Early funding through a SproutX AgTech program soon moved the idea closer to reality. The founders then secured seed funding from private investors who took an interest in Provenir’s ethical approach, some of whom were farmers themselves. Co-funding for research and development from Meat and Livestock Australia, together with a crowdfunding campaign to secure early sales of meat packs, found Provenir ready for launch in 2019.

This story excerpt is from Issue #135

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2021