Mail order meat is normally ordered from a catalog or through a website on the Internet. It may be ordered in bulk or in smaller portions for families or individuals. Some companies specialize in either fresh or frozen meats, and others sell both types. Popular types of mail order meat include beef, pork, lamb, veal and a number of types of seafood.
Mail order meat was first introduced to consumers in the mid 1950s. A few wholesale meat companies that previously supplied meat exclusively to supermarkets and restaurants began offering the service to the general population. This was considered a boon to homemakers who lived in remote areas and had little access to a wide variety of commercially produced meats.
When initially introduced, mail order meats were ordinarily only available in a frozen state. They were normally flash frozen and packed with dry ice to ensure they arrived to the consumer in good condition. Since shipping methods were not as fast and far-reaching as they are today, transportation problems commonly occurred.
As overnight shipping became available to more consumers, the mail order meat businesses expanded. Along with beef, which was the most popular mail order meat for many years, pork, chicken, lamb and veal became widely available. Coastal seafood companies soon advertised lobster, shrimp, crab and other seafood items available through mail order. Faster shipping also enabled companies to ship fresh meat to customers who preferred it over the frozen varieties.
Over the next few decades, mail order meat experienced a significant increase in popularity. Popular meat packing plants and restaurants famous for their quality beef and pork began marketing their most well-liked products to consumers. These companies frequently sent discount coupons and free shipping offers to potential customers through mass mailings.
In the past few years, mail order meat choices have expanded. In addition to the more traditional offerings of beef, pork, lamb, seafood and chicken, less common meats such as bison, buffalo and goat can be ordered through the mail. Exotic meats such as ostrich, alligator, turtle, python and crocodile are often readily available through mail order as well. Game meat fans can purchase deer, elk, wild boar, antelope and a variety of game fowl through the mail.
A form of mail order meat that is gaining popularity in some sectors is prepared meat dishes. Gourmet dishes such as beef Wellington, chicken cordon bleu, roast crown of pork and stuffed poultry can be ordered from a variety of companies, often along with appropriate side dishes. These offerings are normally shipped frozen and reheated in a microwave by the consumer at their leisure.