Training Meat Cutters to Be ‘Meat Cooking Counselors’

Training Meat Cutters to Be ‘Meat Cooking Counselors’

Food & Drink

Training Meat Cutters to Be ‘Meat Cooking Counselors’

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By Cari Martens

The supermarket meat cutter haven’t always been the best source for information about actually preparing and cooking that meat. After all, their training has been about cutting up the beef, pork or poultry for sale in the meat case, not about preparing it for dinner.

Apparently, that is changing. More and more supermarkets are attempting to educate their butchers, so they can, in turn, advise shoppers about the best way to prepare a cut of meat for the evening meal.

As reported by Timothy W. Martin in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. now has its meat cutters watch cooking videos and quizzes them afterwards. Supervalu Inc. distributes thick binders called ‘Speak the Language of Beef.’ Some supermarket chains now send their meat cutters to Beef Training Camps, notes Martin.

Fresh meat accounts for about 4% of supermarket sales according to Nielsen research. Those sales have risen by more than 12% in the past year, Nielsen numbers show. No doubt much of that uptick is due to more people choosing to eat at home rather than dine out in today’s pinched economy. But some of that gain may be in response to supermarkets’ efforts to be more consumer-friendly and ‘preparation knowledgeable’ around the meat case.

Further affirming the cook-at-home trend, supermarkets are now the most shopped retail channel as measured by visits, surpassing mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart and Target for the first time in a decade, according to a study released recently by WSL Strategic Retail, a retail and manufacturer consultant. With more folks coming in, it makes sense to make the trip to the meat department a better experience.

A Winn-Dixie spokesperson says there’s been a ‘significant increase’ in customer satisfaction. Supervalu, whose training of meat cutters coincided with the launch of a line of angus beef, says sales have exceeded expectations, according to Martin.

Next time you’re at the grocer’s fresh meat counter, test the meat cutter’s cooking knowledge. Ask him (and it will almost assuredly be a ‘him’) if he recommends braising or broiling, or perhaps pose a query about marinating. Let us know if he passes the test.

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