Just got done reading your March 30 issue. What an article on the "Secret Shopper Survey: Holiday Meals." Boy, does THAT bring to light some of the real issues of HMR!
I was just glad no one called here. I did the same by calling my own store anonymously, and got the same results you did!
Needless to say, I got a little HOT! Yet when I get right down to it, we are not set up for any kind of meal service of that kind. Basically, we do just the meal grouping (collecting together all the ingredients for a meal for a single sale), and that has been very successful. But most departments fall back on "old habits" in times of stress.
Another major issue is labor. There isn't the quality of help available to fill the roles we need. Also, training those we have is very difficult, because we don't even know what to expect!
But we are trying to progress and provide the customer with solutions instead of just ingredients, and we have one of the most knowledgable sources available to us, the customer herself! We ask her how, and what, and when to solve her meal problems. She will teach us best.
And YOU will continue to press us to learn, by writing thought-provoking articles such as this one.
Thank you, and thanks to your staff -- some of the finest around.
-- MARVIN IMUS
Paw Paw Shopping Center
To the Editor:
As a retired consultant to supermarket chains on meat operations, may I comment on your recent article about some beef producers wanting to eliminate their contributions of a dollar a head to fund advertising, education and research? ("Livestock Group Lobbying to End Checkoff," March 30, 1998.)
These people are short-sighted. If they would only look at the big picture, they would realize at a time like this they should be increasing their contributions, rather than eliminating them. After all, such contributions are investments in their own future.
One view that needs refuting here is that when a small number of packers account for a major share of cattle purchases, it hurts cattle feeders. Not so. On the contrary, it actually helps them.
To understand why, we need only realize that most of the costs involved in running a plant today are what we call fixed costs, i.e., they must be paid regardless of the level of output. Also, the larger the plant, the more serious this fixed-cost problem. The result? These large plants actually bid up live prices, because they must compete with each other to keep their high-cost plants in operation. They thus put a floor under live prices, a floor that would not otherwise exist.