In recent years, what was once a speciality has become a craze. Across Canada, consumers are becoming increasingly passionate about meat that has been responsibly farmed. And when it comes to shopping, they are voting with their wallets: more and more, consumers are shifting away from mass-produced meat to more artisanal local sources.

There has always been a market for artisanal meat, but as consumers have become more aware of the importance of sourcing ethical, sustainable meat for their tables, interest in smaller scale, locally based producers has grown exponentially. It is now common for some higher end restaurants to list where they source their meat, and this has led to greater consumer literacy around issues like the use of antibiotics, the importance of free range poultry, and farmed vs. wild-caught fish.

At the same time, the hectic pace of modern life has made it harder for ordinary people to invest the time in shopping at the kind of speciality butchers that can provide consistent access to high quality local meats. This in turn is fuelling a growing interest in food kits that deliver pre-packaged individual portions of meat for subscribers to cook in their own homes. For example, shoppers across Ontario can now order boxes of individually packaged steaks, sausages, roasts, and filet mignon for repeat delivery so fresh, quality meat is always on hand.

Home delivery is obviously a convenient option for those who find it hard making time for regular trips to the supermarket, but it isn’t just about ordering the same food online one could pick up at a grocery store. Many home delivery services offer much more bespoke options than shoppers would find at the supermarket, with providers specializing in things like fresh meat delivery services that bring local, sustainably raised beef, chicken, and pork right to the customer’s door.

Though the past two years have seen a growing interest in plant-based proteins like quinoa, chickpeas, and lentils, industry-watchers predict that meat is going to make a big comeback in 2018. This comeback will not be fuelled simply by a return to traditional meat products like steaks and ground beef, but rather by an expanding interest in more artisanal cuts of beef, pork, and mutton, as well as a growing awareness of alternatives like buffalo.

In all likelihood, these two trends — toward home delivery and alternative meats — will turn out to be complementary. Many of the specialized providers that are driving the fresh meat delivery movement, like Ontario’s truLOCAL, offer buffalo burgers, buffalo ribeye, and stewing buffalo alongside gourmet sausages and wild-caught fish, and conscientious urban shoppers who are strapped for time are finding these services to be a perfect marriage of quality and efficiency.

The food industry is notorious for trends that become ubiquitous overnight and disappear just as quickly. When it comes to home delivery and artisanal meat, however, all indicators suggest that we are witnessing a sea change in how people think about the food they eat and how they purchase it. It’s likely that fresh meat delivery will be part of the retail landscape for years to come.