The meat department is a signature department in your co-op, and building your reputation for variety, high quality, and freshness is a big part of drawing loyal customers to your store. It’s important to continually evaluate merchandising, sales and product selection in order to meet the evolving needs of natural food consumers. Focus on the following three areas to improve your meat department and increase your success in meeting sales goals and margin.

Merchandising and Presentation. Pete Hodgson, meat and seafood consultant with CDS CC, said renewing product selection and sprucing up the case, “helps build repeat customers.” Especially during the holidays and seasonally, retailers need to focus on offering the products people are looking for and promoting them. He suggests utilizing any space available, including setting up a rack for shelf-stable items like sauces, jerky meats, and spice blends (how about house made!). If doing seasonal resets is not part of your current repertoire, it may be beneficial to seek professional assistance with developing a merchandising plan.

Department Programming. Retailers may be losing out on sales if they do not have a value-added meat program for customers that includes marinated meats, in-house sausage, smoked meat and seafood, crab cakes, and other prepared foods. “It’s a huge trend,” Hodgson said. “When you offer more variety through value-added products, your customers can purchase all their meat and seafood needs at the co-op. The program also increases the “wow” factor for the customer.”

Sales Goals. Meeting sales goals is synonymous with promotions. If you don’t currently have a sale ad for meat, create one that comes out weekly or bi-monthly. The flyer should feature an attractive price on high and low SRP items. “Ask your suppliers for discounts to get better deals,” Hodgson said. Additionally, promote the department through social media, websites and local and regional newspapers. And lastly, demo products regularly so customers can experience the quality of the meats and learn how to prepare them.

To gain even more ideas and expertise on improving meat departments, contact Pete Hodgson, meat and seafood consultant at 413-687-5791 or petehodgson@cdsconsulting.coop.

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