NORRISTOWN, Pa. -- Executives at Genuardi's Family Markets here say the chain's resurrection of a venerable old meat-department brand is meeting with success.
The chain began to relaunch the exclusive Up Country meat label several months ago in the fresh-pork category, and the label is currently being applied as well to chicken and spiral-cut ham. Genuardi's is positioning the Up Country brand as premium quality and has been extensively advertising the name in its circulars.
"It's a premium-quality product," said Bill Wolfe, Genuardi's director of merchandising.
"Up Country was a private brand owned by Genuardi's. It always conveyed a strong premium-brand image," explained Wolfe. "We feel consumers will identify with that particular name because it has tradition. The name conveys a high quality, fresh-from-the-producer image."
The Up Country-branded line includes "all standard cuts of both pork and chicken," said Wolfe. He said that although the line is positioned as premium, its price points are being set significantly lower than other name-branded chicken and pork.
"It will probably always be a [big] price difference," Wolf said. "It has caused a very stunning turnaround in both commodity groups since its introduction."
Jim Wilkinson, Genuardi's director of meat and seafood, told SN that since the chain began using the Up Country name for chicken about two months ago, "We have had a 45% increase in poultry over the prior brand."
Wilkinson estimated that about 70% of his operation's chicken sales are now Up Country. And all the pork that Genuardi's carries "is strictly Up Country," he explained.
The Up Country pork hit the shelves a month before the chicken, and a spiral sliced ham was added to the lineup this month.
Wolfe said Genuardi's revived the brand "because we wanted to differentiate our product from the competition. The edge really has gone to the Up Country label, because we really have aggressively promoted it compared to branded alternatives," he said.
The Up Country items are being regularly promoted in circulars and in-store point-of-sale materials. In the stores, the line is being merchandised with "a series of logo danglers located above the section. The logo changes by commodity. The color scheme denotes pork vs. chicken," said Wolfe.
The newly launched spiral-sliced ham is being promoted in "its own separate section of the fresh-meat section," Wolf continued. "We thought it would be more distinct that way. It's wrapped in gold and comes with its own chrome serving stand."
Wilkinson said the ham "is selling unbelievably well." It comes in 7- to 9-pound halves and retails for $3.49 a pound, which he said is 20% to 25% lower "than what the ham stores sell them at."
The ham is also displayed in the deli department and promoted with signage throughout the store, said Wilkinson.
The brand's expansion will continue, the officials said. According to Wolfe, while Genuardi's has not yet introduced prepared foods using Up Country meats, "We do have plans, and we feel strongly about cross promoting it with other departments."