LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets has rolled out a line of premium beef, and is kicking it with a major marketing campaign tied to the post-Labor Day start of football season.
The promotion is centered around a series of traveling pre-game tailgate events at professional and college football games, according to Publix spokesman Lee Brunson. The retailer's "Tailgate Tour" will offer samples of the new line, called Publix Premium Certified Beef.
In-store, the new line is being marketed as a high-quality option, said Brunson, since the specifications authorize only cattle "showing significant physical characteristics of Angus, Hereford and other USDA-recognized beef brands."
"Publix meat experts went to great lengths to develop specifications that would result in consistently tender, lean and flavorful beef," said Leslie Spencer, the retailer's director of consumer relations. "The cattle are grain-fed, and complete control and care of the cattle is monitored by suppliers specially chosen by Publix."
In addition to USDA grading and inspection, the beef is inspected again by our suppliers to ensure it meets our stringent specifications, Spencer added. Meat department workers also examine the meat when it reaches the stores, and cut, trim and package it by hand daily.
A meat industry consultant who recently visited a Publix unit in Ocala, Fla., said the retailer was promoting the brand with point-of-sale material that included a three-sided pylon set up in the meat department. The retailer had set aside an expanded amount of case space for the beef at this particular store. To convey an upscale image, packages of Publix Premium Certified Beef feature black and gold labels.
Publix's actions mark the latest attempt by a major supermarket company to brand its own name on a commodity product in an effort to differentiate itself from the competition, said the consultant, John Story, based in Reddick, Fla.
"What retailers have decided is it's better to identify the beef with the store than with the breed," he said. "Years ago, Safeway used to have a label on the beef, so the customer knew where to get it.
"The other factor is food safety," he said. "Retailers want to protect themselves by being involved in the processing of the product."