Real Life

Butchers in supermarkets

Why is the butcher kept out of sight at the supermarket?

I buy most of my meat now from the supermarket. I feel guilty about this, because I enjoyed my old-fashioned butcher for his advice and cheerfulness. Unfortunately, the convenience and pricing of buying meat at the supermarket has won me over. But why can’t we have the best of both worlds?

I realise there are butchers working at my supermarket and they are accessible if you’ve the time and energy to track them down, but why can’t they be more visible? Why can’t there be, in effect, a butcher shop within the supermarket?

I’m told that Countdown has the meat butchered at a central processing plant and delivered to stores. Can’t do much there, but all large Pak’n Save and New World supermarkets have in-store butchers. Foodstuffs, who own Pak’n Save and New World, tell me that “anecdotal research suggests” customers are averse to seeing the red meat processed and would rather see the finished product on the shelf.

I realise there are butchers working at my supermarket and they are accessible if you’ve the time and energy to track them down, but why can’t they be more visible? Why can’t there be, in effect, a butcher shop within the supermarket?

This may be because the demographic of shoppers, who are not so closely associated with the land, are not at ease seeing raw meat and carcasses on display. They say they encourage customers to seek supermarket butchers for advice if required. I am always a bit dubious about “anecdotal research” suggesting things. Often, it is used to justify the status quo. I reckon keeping the butchery “out the back” might be more to do with simply being less costly and more convenient for the supermarkets.

My own supermarket butcher has told me he would rather be “out there” among the public. If supermarkets polled their customers, I think the response would be butchers are far too knowledgeable – and too much fun – to hide behind walls. Bring in the carpenters and knock down the walls!

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [email protected], or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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