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Dr. Roberto Ruiz
NEIKER – Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario
Campus Agroalimentario de Arkaute, P.O. Box 46
E-01080 Vitoria-Gasteiz
Tel.: +34 945 121 334
Fax: +34 945 281 422
E-Mail: rruiz(at)

Meat box schemes in the Province of Álava, Basque country, Spain


In the Spanish province of Alava (Basque country), a number of livestock farmers are selling the meat they produce in chilled storage vacuum-packed format directly to consumers.

  • Country: Province of Alava, Spain
  • Foodlinks theme: Short Food Supply Chains
  • Year started: 2006

Targets & measures

Picture from the ISMA website: vacuum-packed meat

In the Spanish province of Alava (Basque country), some livestock farmers have started selling the meat they produce in chilled storage vacuum-packed format directly to consumers. Farmers usually get in touch with consumers either by e-mail or telephone, announcing the dates of the next slaughter and delivery of packages, and assessing the purchase intention of the identified consumers. Animals are taken to the abattoir, which prepares the packages that are then taken back by the farmer in a suitably conditioned vehicle to keep refrigeration. Different sites and time schedules can be agreed for collecting the packages, so consumers attend, pay and take their package home. Sometimes, meat packages are sold directly on-farm, and then consumers (with their families and children) can interact directly with the farmer, visit the farm, facilities, livestock, pastures, etc. Whenever the farmer has a website, packages can also be purchased through the internet. Farmers might also provide their meat directly to restaurants.

Farmers are located in the province of Alava, between 15 to 40 kilometres from the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Country. However, there is no abattoir in the province, so livestock has to be slaughtered in the territories nearby (mainly in the province of Gipuzkoa); around 80 to 100 kilometres away from the farms. In the provinces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa, there are similar initiatives; their number is estimated to be between 15 and 20.

Interaction and knowledge brokering activities

The main actors involved are the farmers and the consumers (or co-producers). The local convivium of Slow Food has also played an outstanding role in the promotion of these schemes and the quality of these products.

There are four livestock farmers who market their meat (horse meat and beef): one is farmed organically and two market their products under the Euskal Okela PGI label. Both of the latter have local cattle breeds: Terreña and Pirenaica.

The farmers of the meat box scheme described here are full-time farmers affiliated to UAGA, the Farmers’ Union of Alava. They use the existing advisory and support programmes (breeding schemes, technical and economic advisory service and others). Feeding practices are to a great extent pasture based: suckler cows graze outdoors most of the year (even in communally managed mountain pastures during summer and autumn), but calves are kept indoors during fattening (where they are provided with home-made forages, straw and usually purchased concentrates). The organic farmer belongs to the local association of organic farmers (Bionekazaritza). In general, all of them are able to communicate the benefits of their products to consumers.

Knowledge brokering activities are based on face-to-face interactions between farmers and consumers, and sometimes on internet based tools (websites and email).


Livestock farmers mainly

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