Fresh Perspectives

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Fresh Perspectives


Braising…broiling…grilling…sautéing…so many methods, so little knowledge.

So goes the conundrum of the average meat shopper, whose skill sets relative to the various preparation methods of diverse cuts of fresh meat and poultry have ample room for improvement. With this the case, the emphasis on in-store purchase decisions makes a clear case for the increasingly important role “here’s-how-it’s-done” labels and signage play in the meat department.

To help its customers become better versed with the versatility of its fresh-cut beef and pork items, Birmingham, Ala.-based Belle Foods is taking a lead role as one of the nation’s first grocery retailers to implement Quick Response (QR) codes on its meat department signage, which will route shoppers to a digital database of different cuts of meat, what types of meat are the best for various cooking methods, safe preparation guidelines, recipes and more.

The move to add smartphone-friendly technology to enhance consumer decision-making at the meat case is fitting with the upstart regional retailer’s keen focus on empowering consumers to make informed decisions at the shelf-edge.

“When we looked at our label program we wanted to make it different and useful for our customers while branding our product and name. Incorporating the Quick Response (QR) code was the ‘Refreshingly Simple’ solution,” said Ken Jones, meat and seafood director for the 57-store Belle Foods, whose stores are located in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi.

The implementation of its new QR scanner app for beef and pork preparation info, which rolled out on April 10 in all of its stores, was a collaborative effort with Yerecic Label, Prairie Fresh Pork, National Beef, the National Pork Board and the Alabama Cattleman’s Association.

Founded by the father/son team of Bill and Jeff White, Belle Foods is clearly going the extra mile to simplify the shopping experience throughout its stores with enhanced services, nutrition guidance, community outreach and affordable prices.

Indeed, while prices have taken on an ever-greater role in the meat purchasing decision process in recent years, Belle Foods also earns props for mixing up its value-added section by selling single-serve meat items by the piece, such as bacon wrapped pork tenderloins at two for $3.00, marinated chicken leg quarters for $1.00 each and stuffed chicken breasts at $3.00 a piece.

In an era when progressive grocers like Belle Foods are striving mightily to deliver on heightened expectations for better experiences and better food, the all-important meat department is an indisputable platform to help impart confidence, quality and enhanced at-home know-how as a trusted resource for consumers and competitive differentiator.

And though traditional supermarkets continue to maintain their status as a stronghold for the majority of fresh meat and poultry purchases, overall U.S. meat consumption has been on the wane for nearly a decade. With this the case, we'd love to hear other ideas about how grocers are keeping meat profits sizzling and consumer loyalty strong.