Times have certainly changed, have they not? I am only forty years old, and the retail landscape has undergone a renaissance in the past twenty years. I worked my way through high school and a little of college in grocery stores. I worked them in small rural towns and in big metropolitan areas. The one thing they always had in common was that they were the place to go to get the groceries you needed.
Soon, big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target got into the game. It was a little odd at first. In our small rural communities, the grocers felt threatened because they could not compete on prices. However, in our small towns, the people still supported the local grocers. The common phrase of support that I always heard was that people would go to Walmart for the prepackaged foods like canned veggies, frozen pizzas, and boxed snack items that were not on sale in the grocery stores. However, when it came to the “quality items” like meat, eggs, and produce, they would trust their local grocer.
Then things got even more interesting. I remember the first time I heard a Kwik Trip commercial that advertised steaks, eggs, and produce. (Point of Clarification: In Minnesota, we had Kwik Trips. Not Quick Trips. Iowans know them as Kwik Star stores. Now, back to the story.) My father used more colorful adjectives and metaphors, but essentially, he couldn’t figure out who would think they were going to get a quality product at the “gas station?”
Times have certainly changed, and we are seeing an uptick in the number of quality products being purchased at convenience stores across the country. The market for having these products available at a “gas station” has become even more desirable during the time of Covid, where people are looking to minimize the stops, they need to make on a shopping trip. Also, convenience stores have a higher market for ready-to-eat products. National Pork Board Director of Channel Marketing Neal Hull explains this market.
The National Pork Board recognizes this trend and is putting their focus on it. They feel that by being involved in this dynamic shift, they can most benefit hog producers.
The times are changing. People are not shopping the conventional ways we saw in the past 20-40 years. That is the nature of retail markets. They are ever-evolving. For producers, it is good to see that the industry is noticing these changes and is working to keep up. This way your products will be in front of consumers at any location they choose.