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Perishable Pundit
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American Food & Ag Exporter

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Pundit’s Mailbag — Other Deli Suppliers Look Closely At Boar’s Head Debate

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, September 22, 2009

Our pieces, Dietz & Watson Takes On Boar’s Head: Is Exclusivity Anti-Consumer? Is It even Good For Retailers? and Pundit’s Mailbag — Deli Private labels Also Benefit From Boar’s Head Banner, brought a disapproving letter from another deli meat manufacturer:

Your coverage of the Dietz & Watson vs. Boar’s Head battle may be of interest to those who carry either brand; it does not deserve the lengthy reports that you continue to publish.

How about taking the same space to report on the other companies in the deli meat business that would love to have all of the free advertising you have afforded the two companies in question. All of us would love the free exposure.

— Frank Pocino
Chief Executive Officer
Pocino Foods Co.
City of Industry, California

Although we appreciate Mr. Pocino’s letter, we confess that we are perplexed as to how anyone could interpret our pieces as merely “free advertising” for anyone.

Clearly, as with all the pieces we run in the “Pundit,” our initial piece was a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the issues involved in a retailer offering or a manufacturer requesting, retail exclusivity — an issue with broad implications for the trade.

The follow-up piece was built around a letter to the editor from the director of the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Program and dealt thoughtfully with the complex issue of how carrying premium-priced lines can impact the profitability of private label programs.

These issues impact retailers and producers throughout the deli industry and on into the broader perishable food industry.

In fact, a company such as Pocino may find itself confronted with a serious issue if retailers elect to, in effect, “lease out” their deli departments to full line operators. Though Pocino offers an extensive line of products, it does not, for example, offer cheese or poultry-based products, and so does not have a full line capable of competing to brand a deli.

We’ve argued that retailers can offer a superior selection to consumers by retaining the right to select individual products, each from the best supplier, rather than blindly purchasing a complete line from one vendor which, almost surely, does not have the very best product in each and every category.

We’ve also argued that retailers could benefit by using their space and foot traffic to build up the reputation of their own store or a deli concept name the store owns, rather than building up the brand name of a supplier.

Whether our views prove persuasive or not, we suspect that companies such as Pocino have a significant stake in the outcome of these debates.

Once again, we thank Frank Pocino and Pocino Foods Co. for weighing in on the matter.

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