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Meat Packers As Retail Distributors

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

While in the olden days, the butcher and slaughterer was his own retail distributor, economists have at times advocated the advisability of going back to the simple line of meat distribution, that is, to have the packers retail meats. While this may sound like an economical method of distribution, it must not be overlooked that the functions of meat packing and meat retailing have become widely separated, and the packing indus-try, today, is in a class by itself.

Meat retailing has also become a distinct economic function, each line of effort requiring a high degree of specialization.

Since there is really no so-called middle man or jobber in the meat business as in most other lines of wholesale distribution, where products go from the manufacturer through a jobber or wholesale distributor, the meat packers either maintain their own branch houses or car routes, or distribute directly from their own plant, so that there is actually no middle man's profit to save.

Packing and Retailing Different Functions

For the average large packing plant to market its immense quantities of product in its own retail markets would require such a large number of markets that, although it is physically possible, it is quite impractical. There are, however, some small packers engaged in retail meat distribution. One meat packer in the northwestern part of the United States operates as many as 46 markets, used primarily as an outlet for his own products. In northwestern Canada, a large meat packer operates 92 meat markets, some of them of very large size.

Distributing methods, and livestock conditions, along with the other economic factors seem to make retailing advisable in these localities. Even if meats are distributed by a meat packer, he has to perform the functions of retailing which, as pointed out, are very distinct today from meat packing practices.

Not Butchering, but Retailing Meats

The man engaged in the retail meat industry today, must realize first of all that to be a successful meat retailer, it does not require a thorough knowledge of butchering, but rather a realization of the fact that the retailer is primarily a retail distributor of meats—a business man, engaged in the "retail meat business"—and that he is not merely conducting a "butcher shop."

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