Tyson Fresh Meats, a pork and beef subsidiary of Tyson Foods, has debuted a butcher certification program for retailers selling the company's top-level Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork brand. Retail partners can take the course free of charge, according to Progressive Grocer.
The program involves watching PowerPoint presentations and an educational video featuring Chef Mario Valdovinos and Certified Butcher Jamie Torrez, plus successfully completing short quizzes. The company will give participants who complete the training a completion certificate, special merchandise and in-store signage, as well as advice on merchandising.
“We know that Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork customers expect their butchers to be knowledgeable about the product in their meat cases,” Ozlem Worpel, senior brand manager for Tyson Fresh Meats, said in a statement. “We have worked hard to develop this program to ensure our partners receive superior education about the Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork products, brand history and their attributes.”
Tyson's new initiative has the potential to secure loyalty among retailers whose employees participate in the certification course. While it doesn't appear to be a particularly stringent program, grocery workers who engage with the program will leave with tools on how to market the protein giant's top-shelf pork products — all aspects that could help maintain its business relationships.
For the retailers, advertising their completion of the program could attract shoppers who, like the company's brand manager noted, may expect in-store butchers to know about the Tyson brand and the cuts and classes of meat it offers. Stores need every competitive advantage they can get in today's increasingly cutthroat marketplace, and those offering specialized butcher services — like ShopRite, for example — could be viewed by customers as a step above their rivals.
To add value to the retail experience, butchers need to know about more than just various cuts of meat and how to present them. Today's shoppers want also want to learn where their meat came from and how the animals were raised and treated, so transparency is a key value-add.
According to Rob Levitt, who owns The Butcher & Larder in Chicago, the best in the business pay attention to all aspects related to the meat they sell.
"At a shop like mine, we can tell you who raised the pig, what they ate, how old they were when they died, where all the cuts of the animal come from and how best to cook them," he told The Distilled Man magazine. A helpful butcher will be able to work within a customer's budget, he added, as well as figure out the best products for the occasion and establish an ongoing relationship with his or her clientele.
For meat producers who want to stay competitive, these kinds of details could tip the scales when it comes to consumer purchase behavior. Shopper hunger for information about mission-based initiatives such as animal welfare commitments and environmental sustainability efforts, as well as information about the day-to-day routines of a company's animals, shows no sign of slowing down.
Last fall, Cargill tested blockchain technology that allowed consumers to trace their individual Thanksgiving turkey from the store they bought it from to the farm that raised it. And while these types of innovations are certainly eye-catching, meat producers can deliver similar transparency at lower cost by educating store employees about their brand. If Tyson's certification program drives sales and confidence in its premium pork, other meat producers may adopt similar tactics.