Butchers making a comeback

September 22, 2010

The resurgence of service butchers –

The resurgence of service butchers – which was forecast by The Lempert Report as the ‘hot trend for 2010’ – is taking shape in metropolitan markets where people pay more to support their meat-eating principles.

What we said then:  “People want to know where their foods come from, and with Country of Origin labeling, shoppers are learning more than they ever expected – especially in the meat case where labels that list more than one country are prompting more consumer questions than ever….The re-emergence of the local butcher, both within supermarkets as well as freestanding establishments [is] where shoppers will go, select the cuts of meat they prefer and have it ground on demand.”

Currently in Seattle and parts of Virginia, for instance, several independent butchers actively advise shoppers on the different types, grading and labeling of meats, advise on meal preparation, and describe the humane treatment of the dead animals they sell, according to an MSNBC.com account.

More consumers want to feel more connected to what they eat, be more assured the food is healthful, and was raised humanely on a local farm using minimal additives such as hormones and antibiotics, the report noted further.

If high-volume supermarket meat departments decide these are too many criteria to address, these shops will miss out on opportunities to satisfy a growing consumer niche willing to pay more for their beef, poultry, pork and lamb. There are, of course, many operational concerns before taking this on – but do supermarkets want to leave a truck-wide gap in their ability to fill a household’s food need. 

The answer depends on the market, we believe at The Lempert Report. This isn’t for every store – but every store should at least assess their potential gains or losses from taking this path or deciding against it. We think retailers will find more demand than they initially anticipate, especially with the recessionary rise in home cooking and family wellness primary among consumer concerns.