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Schnucks Herds Bison Into St. Louis Area

ST. LOUIS - As Schnuck Markets, Inc. continues seeking out ways to expand its variety and value-added customer services, the family-held chain is bringing a dozen cuts of bison (or buffalo) meat to St. Louis-area customers.

Before being rolled out companywide, SayersBrook Bison Ranch products will be available immediately by special order at select service meat counters in 10 Schnucks locations, including Des Peres, Mason, Dorsett, Wildwood, Chesterfield, Woods Mill, Lindbergh, Ladue, Richmond Center, and Twin Oaks.

Schnucks spokeswoman Lori Willis told Progressive Grocer that adding bison to its fresh meat case lineup "is the latest value-added services that we offer our consumers throughout all of our stores. In this case, consumers will be able to place specialty orders at our service meat counters from a choice of 12 bison items," which will be delivered the following week.

In addition to bison, Willis also cited Turducken –- "a unique and flavorful" combination of turkey, duck, and chicken that Schnucks began offering during last year's holiday selling season –- "as one of the more unusual items that can be purchased either fresh or prepared and ready to eat."

While the current mainstream audience for bison remains small, "it is gathering a growing following and should be a big hit with dieters because of its low-calorie content that is 75 percent less than skinless chicken and 10 times less than salmon," noted Willis.

When asked about the impact low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets have had at Schnucks, Willis said: "We have seen a tremendous amount of interest in low-carb foods of all types and, as many retailers will tell you, a commensurate increase in the amount of fresh meat we are selling."

Willis said it's "been difficult for us to separate how much of it is due to low-carb diets and how much is due to summer grilling, [but] interest is still running extremely high and there's still enough of those dieters out there that are looking for all types of low-carb options. And I'm sure bison will soon discover a new following among low-carb dieters in our stores."

Cy Jansen, Schnucks' v.p. of meat operations said Potosi, Mo.-based SayersBrook bison meat "is nationally known for its great flavor, excellent quality, and important health benefits. Frozen bison patties are available locally, but we're excited that Schnucks customers are now able to purchase bison in a variety of forms, including burgers, bratwurst, hot dogs, strip sirloin, London broil, T-bones, and bison tenderloins."

Added Willis: "We have a tremendous amount of resources, and we can handle just about any specialty order that comes our way and we're happy to do it, because that's what we believe will help us differentiate our company within the market. With more and more nontraditional players entering the grocery business, it's more and more important that we do everything we can to set ourselves apart, and bison is the latest example of those efforts."

Schnucks currently operates 101 stores (including five Logli stores) and 94 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Mississippi. The company is ranked 80th on Forbes' list of the nation's largest private companies.

-- Meg Major
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