Selling meat a challenge in tough times

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2012

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New Zealand supermarket shoppers are among the thriftiest in the world.

Progresssive Enterprises general manager merchandise Murray Johnston said more than half of Countdown shoppers were price sensitive because of the tough financial conditions and that the days of being loyal to a particular brand were gone.

"It's a very tough environment and it's likely to stay that way," Mr Johnston told delegates at the second annual red meat sector conference in Queenstown yesterday.

The conference was initiated last year by the Meat Industry Association and Beef and Lamb New Zealand after the launch of the red meat sector strategy. Almost 300 delegates attended the conference yesterday.

Mr Johnston said the challenge for supermarkets was providing cheaper and fresher food.

Progressive Enterprises sourced 99 per cent of its livestock direct from about 1200 farmers from around the country, he said.

Promotions were a key part of Countdown's business. In 2002, it formed a partnership with the Te Mania Angus Stud and in 2008 sold its first Angus branded steak.

The supermarket giant had targeted consumers in recent promotions - giving away more than 900,000 kitchen knives and discount petrol vouchers, Mr Johnston said.

Countdown was focused on growing its organic and gluten-free product ranges, he said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper said the sheep industry needed to work closely with supermarkets which were at the forefront of the New Zealand meat industry.

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- The Southland Times

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