Food

ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow [Jun 2020]: Which One is Worth your Money?

Last Updated on

Main Differences Between ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow

The main differences between ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow are:

  • ButcherBox offers five subscription boxes, whereas Crowd Cow offers a la carte shopping and three subscription boxes
  • ButcherBox offers refunds on damaged or missing items, whereas Crowd Cow allows refunds for unused products for up to 30 days
  • ButcherBox says to impose slightly stricter standards on products across the board, whereas Crowd Cow offers details on specific items

Meat and seafood delivery services have sprung up in the past five years as a way to enjoy fresh food delivered to your door, but with most of the world under some orders to stay at home as much as possible, the demand for services like ButcherBox and Crowd Cow meat delivery is now higher than ever.

The global health crisis has sent countless families and individuals, including me, inside their homes and away from public spaces as much as possible. But not everyone wants, or needs, full-service meal kits like companies such as Blue Apron or Green Chef offers.

That’s part of the appeal of meat and seafood delivery services like ButcherBox and Crowd Cpw meat delivery: a way to have food delivered to your door, but with more flexibility and less obligation to make a specific meal.

But if you’re like me, you may have some hesitation when it comes to a food delivery service. The problem is: meat delivery can sound too good to be true. The convenience, flexibility, and promise of fresh, high-quality meat is something both ButcherBox and Crowd Cow claim to offer.

In this review, I’ll answer those questions and tell you my honest opinion on which delivery service I recommend between ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow.

ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow: Which one is more worth your money?

A farm to table emphasis, appealing web pages, and recent news coverage made me curious: could ButcherBox and Crowd Cow really live up to their promises? And if so, which one is superior?

What’s the basic idea behind ButcherBox compared to Crowd Cow?

While I noticed some similarities between the two companies, there was a different point of emphasis immediately.

  • ButcherBox touts itself as an alternative, first and foremost, to grocery shopping, emphasizing factors like convenience, quality, and overall value. The company also mentions humanely treated animals, but this is less marketed than other factors, such as cost per serving.
  • Crowd Cow, like ButcherBox, also declares itself as a smart alternative of what it terms “the commodity market,” but instead of price or convenience, most heavily focuses on issues such as sourcing and connecting with farmers.

My Takeaway: Both ButcherBox and Crowd Cow are trying to make themselves stand out from conventional meat, but ButcherBox is appeal solely to customers, while Crowd Cow has a section for farmers interested in supplying meat. Because of this, there is a little more emphasis on sourcing, while ButcherBox focuses on overall value.

What products does ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow supply?

Though both Crowd Cow and ButcherBox meat delivery claim to supply quality meat, there are some notable differences when it comes to their specific inventory.

ButcherBox

ButcherBox produces beef (including ground beef), chicken, heritage breed pork and Alaskan salmon. The cuts and types available depend on the month and your box plan. With a fairly niche and smaller inventory, it’s easy to navigate their website, but I found myself wishing I could learn more about individual products.

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow does not, as the name may seem to imply, only offer beef. Like ButcherBox, you can also purchase chicken (chicken breast, chicken thighs, and more), heritage pork and salmon (including wild salmon), but they also have products ButcherBox does not carry, including seafood such as Black Cod, Wild Maine Lobster, Salmon Patties and American Lamb.

Their speciality is Japanese and American Wagyu Beef, ground beef, filet mignon, brisket, and all of their meats include a plethora of specialty cuts to choose from. I did notice that a number of products are currently sold out, but there was still enough to choose from, and I imagine they are experiencing an increase in demand.

My Takeaway: ButcherBox doesn’t have as many options as Crowd Cow, and it also provides less information about cuts and types. The risk of Crowd Cow’s catalog for me would normally be becoming overwhelmed, but I found their catalog easy to navigate, and generous enough without offering too many options. I especially appreciate being able to see detailed photos and descriptions, whereas ButcherBox there is little of either for specific products. Of course, this also is connected with how delivery and subscriptions work.

What should I know about the quality of meat from ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow?

The quality and sourcing of delicious meat is important to me normally, but even more so when a company promotes it as part of its marketing.

ButcherBox

ButcherBox meat is grass-fed, pasture-raised, and in compliance with a number of organizations. In addition, none of their meat contains antibiotics, growth hormones, synthetics or dyes. The company sources much of its meat from ranchers in Australia, and its beef from the US. While they do not disclose individual suppliers, those ranchers are dedicated to sustainability efforts.

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow also supplies grass-fed meat and works collaboratively with farmers, but goes a step further by confirming they do not work with industrial factory farms, CAFO or meat brokers. In addition, since you can see specific products, any product will tell you more specifics. No hormones are added, and all meat comes from independent farms. A downside is that I often came across the label “no unnecessary hormones,” which is a notable difference from no hormones or synthetics at all.

My Takeaway: Both companies, to be sure, get high marks for going above and beyond standards which would be typical of conventional meat. That said, while I was initially leaning towards Crowd Cow, I actually think ButcherBox holds its suppliers to higher standards.

How do subscriptions work with ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow?

Everyone is looking for a little something different in a subscription plan. For me, convenience, flexibility and transparency, as well as overall value are all important factors.

ButcherBox

ButcherBox allows you to select from one of five boxes, depending on the meats you wish to receive. With the exception of the custom box, you can select to receive boxes as frequently as every week or as infrequently as every five weeks.

  • Custom Box: My personal favorite, this option allows you to select up to twenty cuts of any kind of meat, for a total of 9-14 lbs. You can tweak your order to your liking by month. The downside is that there is less schedule flexibility and it’s also the most expensive, at $149/ month/ box.
  • Mixed Box: Likely the best compromise and deal overall, the Mixed Box provides 8-11 pounds of any kind of meat, though it’s curated for you. The cost is $129/month.
  • Two/ One Meat Boxes: Opt for the chicken/ beef; pork/beef or all beef if you aren’t fond of a certain type of meat. This is a reasonable option, with the same 1-5 week scheduling offered for the Mixed Box, and costs $129/ month.

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow allows you two options for meat buying. You can either order delivery on an item to item basis through the full catalog, or you can sign up for a subscription. Like ButcherBox, you can select one of a few boxes (in this case, three) with flexible scheduling. In fact, you can schedule to receive boxes when you like, with few restrictions

  • Custom Box: This allows you unlimited freedom, which I really loved. While they do recommend the most popular meat cuts, you have the option to select any meat and cut on their website that’s currently available. The downside is pricing: while boxes start at $99, that price does greatly depend on what you select.
  • Steak Lovers: At $159/ box, you can opt for 30 cuts of dry aged steak, strip steak, ribeye etc… though the cuts themselves are selected for you. You can see samples of what’s typical for a box.
  • Japanese Wagyu: This specialty meat box caught my eye, simply because few delivery services offer Wagyu, which is known for its signature marbling. It doesn’t come cheap, at $249/ box, but it does include “A5 Wagyu served by Michelin Star chefs”.

My Takeaway: I like the flexibility of Crowd Cow’s Custom Box best. That said, I like that BuutcherBox was more transparent on overall value, by providing the weight of its packages. In general, Crowd Cow (excepting the Wagyu) is comparably a little more expensive. Both companies have pluses and minuses.

What should I know about other policies?

Shipping and handling, as well as meat delivery returns and exchanges are policies I always investigate before seriously considering any subscription service.

  • ButcherBox only refunds if a package is damaged or missing items. Shipping is free through FedEx and arrives within an average of three days upon placing an order; you may cancel subscriptions by sending an email to customer service before the next invoice.
  • Crowd Cow allows you to cancel by managing your account online and also allows you to change the date of your delivery as needed. Orders are shipped in an average of three business days and to all states except Hawaii and Alaska. Crowd Cow offers refunds within 30 days, so long as the package is unused.

My Takeaway: While both companies have reasonable policies, Crowd Cow offers a more generous refund policy.

How does the average experience compare with ButcherBox vs Crowd Cow?

While looking into the product quality is always important, so too is seeing just how well delivery services handle issues of customer service for these online butchers.

  • ButcherBox has been selling products for five years and holds an A plus rating through the Better Business Bureau. The average customer service experience, however, was less positive, with users giving an average of just three out of five stars across platforms. While most loved the taste, many had complaints about delivery, cancellation, and other common customer service requests.
  • Crowd Cow is not accredited through BBB, though it does hold an unofficial A minus rating. On Google, a sample of a bit over 500 customers gave Crowd Cow a rating of a nearly perfect average: 4.9 out of 5 stars. Customers praised taste, quality, and excellent customer service.

My Takeaway: ButcherBox falls short when it comes to customer service.

Alternatives to try

You can check these recommendations for the best organic meat delivery services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Crowd Cow good for farmers?

One aspect I sometimes overlook at first is how a company treats its suppliers. While focusing on the welfare of animals and the overall quality of products is of utmost importance, so too is how a company works with its suppliers. In the case of Crowd Cow, the company’s model is actually meant to support smaller farmers and producers, at least in theory. The company offers marketing services to help farmers sell meat more efficiently and for better prices.

Where is Crowd Cow located?

Crowd Cow is located in the heart of Seattle, though it sources its meat from farms around the United States. I found their model a little unique, but I would have liked them to supply more information about their company in general on their website, as the only way to locate their physical address readily is via their BBB profile. They do have a number to text and an email, but seem to discourage addressing their physical location.

What does it mean to split a cow, and how is it related to Crowd Cow?

The term splitting a cow may not be familiar to many, and it was a new concept for me as well, but one that is linked to Crowd Cow as a company, its model, and its general ethos. Splitting a cow can refer to a few things, but can refer to a cow being auctioned off or crowd sourced and divided by different cuts of meat. Auctioning and crowdsourcing, as well as attention to meat cuts are all a part of the Crowd Cow model.

What is Wagyu Beef, and why does Crowd Cow carry it?

Wagyu Beef is a Japanese cattle breed, but it’s actually not as specific a term as you might think. In fact, the term is regularly used to describe one of four different breeds and includes Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef, Yonezawa beef, Mishima beef, Ōmi beef, and Sanda beef. It’s prized for fine marbling and graded 1 through 5, with 5 being the highest grade possible. These cattle are also bred in the US and Canada, along with some other countries. Not only loved for its flavor, but it also has a healthier portion of monounsaturated to saturated fats.

Does ButcherBox come with recipes?

ButcherBox offers a whole catalog of recipes on the main website. Recipes are available for their main products, including grass fed beef, heritage-bred pork chop, free range organic chicken, as well as salmon, scallops, and a few holiday themed recipes. I was impressed with the free recipes and how they varied in terms of flavors and preparation, though they do mostly focus on American based cuisine.

Does Butcherbox offer any special deals for students?

Butcherbox does offer promos occasionally for current students. The best way to find these student deals on meat delivery is to check the main ButcherBox Facebook page. In the past, they’ve offered twenty percent off of boxes, as well as free additional bacon. While this does not appear to be an always feature, I do appreciate the offer for students, who tend to have less money to spend and may enjoy the convenience of delivery services.

Does Butcherbox carry liver?

While not the most popular product, ButcherBox also carries beef liver,which, like the rest of their beef products, is 100 percent grass fed.While liver isn’t to everyone’s taste, it does contain healthful nutrients, including B vitamins, copper, selenium, and of course, protein.

Is ButcherBox worth the cost?

As you can see in this review, I have some hesitation as to whether ButcherBox is worth the cost, but it’s certainly not a definitive negative. ButcherBox does have standards for its meat that are above what you’d find with conventional meat or a conventional meat delivery service. That said, ButcherBox has some real drawbacks, such as poor reports on customer service, and it also is by no means cheap. Whether or not it’s worth the cost depends on how sold you are on their model, but I tend to find that there are also some alternatives that offer just as much.

My Meat Delivery Recommendation:

Meat Lovers should buy from Crowd Cow, but be choosey.

Bottom Line: Of the two, Crowd Cow has a few clear advantages. Not only does it have superior flexibility and more selection options, but customer service is also much better. I will say that your best option is to select carefully, so you purchase high quality meat with the highest standards possible (some have higher standards than others).

Overall, while not perfect, Crowd Cow is my preferred choice as a meat subscription box OR one-off online butcher purchase, and a positive resource also for the farmer (supplier). 

Where to Buy Crowd Cow: You can start by sampling, or just ordering individual products, by browsing their full shop. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend taking a look at the company’s Bestsellers. If you’re interested in one of their three subscription boxes, you can sign up and get details here.

Recommended Reads:

Leave a Reply