First, you listen to your customers. In any business, without them, there is no business. For the meat and poultry industry, it’s a little different in that there are customers and consumers, both of whose demands need to be heard.
Second, as some of you know from my visits to your facilities and our off-the-cuff chats, I’m a big fan of Flat Iron steaks. We all should know the Flat Iron by now, so I don’t think I need to go into the history and attributes of the cut.
This leads me to my issue — as a consumer. My local supermarket’s meat department has disappointed me yet again. About a year ago, the meat department began selling a vacuum-packaged, case-ready Flat Iron steak for a very reasonable price. When I saw them selling this, I was thrilled, but concerned, as there was little information or reason for anyone NOT familiar with the cut to pick it up.
So I stocked up whenever I shopped, and good thing, as over the last month or two, the Flat Irons have disappeared. This having happened before, I decided to speak to the butcher. She said she would be happy to order some for me, but I was disappointed to hear her say she had not tried the Flat Iron.
I advised her that she had to try it, and then sample the product and show my fellow shoppers how to cook it. I was certain, I told her, that Flat Irons would sell if these working- and middle-class folks knew what it was and what to do with it.
She promised she would try the cut next time, but I don’t have high hopes for the sampling and educational concept. I’ve never seen this supermarket do it, but I know that any time I’ve seen it in other stores, customers are snapping up whatever samples are being offered (and often buying the product immediately afterward).
My supermarket meat department has taken out other products that my family and I have come to love in the past, I can only guess because they didn’t meet sales expectations. A simple solution might be better engagement with the customers. Shoppers are “afraid” of approaching the butcher nowadays (if the butcher is even visible and not in the backroom) — they need to be “enticed” to try something and talk to someone about it.
We all know how great these products taste, so why not enthusiastically sell that very thing? Coupled with a little bit of education in this “Food Channel” world we now live in, maybe products would stand a better chance of making it in different markets.
If supermarkets won’t engage shoppers, meat and poultry processors should step up and take the reins. A little personal interaction with shoppers has to go a longer way than a simple coupon stack next to the product or in the Sunday paper.
And I’d be honored to stump for the Flat Iron.