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Importance Of The Retail Meat Business

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



There was a time when the old time butcher had reasons to be proud of his profession. He prided himself on his skill in dressing cattle, calves and other livestock. He took great pride in being an expert butcher with a thorough knowledge of all phases of the business.

While the old time butcher had reasons to be proud of his skill and ability, our present day modern meat merchant has equally justifiable reasons to be proud he is engaged in the retail meat business. Although the skill which was formerly required in the retail meat business has been practically eliminated, his reasons for pride in his profession must necessarily lie in his ability as a meat merchant and in the functions which he performs in our economic life.

Markets Doing Millions Annually

The average meat retailer and others engaged in the retail meat industry hardly realize into what immense proportions the business of meat retailing has developed. It is estimated that the average typical meat market is doing a business of from $30,000 to $50,000 per year. There are, however, retail meat firms in the United States that do an annual retail business in meats of over $20,000,000.

There are meat firms in the business today that operate as many as 700 retail meat markets. There are others that operate as high as 300 to 400 meat markets.

One of the units of a chain store company in New England does an annual business running into $3,000,000 to $4,000,000, consisting primarily of meats. There are many other individual markets doing an annual business of from $500,000 to $1,000,000 per year.

It is evident, therefore, that just as in other lines, meat retailing provides unusual opportunities for large scale business, especially for those who realize that the modern retailer is principally a distributor of meats. The men responsible for the successful conduct of a business of such immense proportions have reasons to be justly proud of their success.

The Meat Retailer and the Farmer

The average retailer who sells his meats over the retail counter has also another reason to be justly proud, for he per-forms the final commercial step in the distribution of an American farm product. Practically all meats, poultry, butter and eggs which are sold over the retail counter are products raised on the American farm. Farming and agriculture are conceded to be the basic industries of the United States. Therefore, the meat retailer forms a very important link in the distribution of the basic wealth of our country.

Outlet for Farm Products

According to Brookmire's Economic Service, the following cash farm income was estimated for the year 1924-1925:

Livestock Animal Products

Cattle $1,044,000,000 Dairy $1,440,000,000
Hogs 1,027,000,000 Poultry 590,000,000
Sheep 150,000,000 Wool 90,000,000
Horses, Mules 245,000,000 Miscellaneous 177,000,000

Total $2,466,000,000 Total $2,297,000,000
rops Total 5,583,000,000 Grand Total $10,335,000,000

According to these figures, a total of $2,221,000,000 cash farm income was received from the sale of cattle, hogs and sheep, which is not quite one-half of the total income received from crops. The above figures prove that the retail meat dealer as final distributor of the farmer's products forms a very important link in our economic life and as such the meat retailer has just reasons to be proud of his business of meat distribution.

Practically every industry makes certain claims as to its importance. From several angles, however, meat retailing must be classed as one of the most important and leading industries in the United States.

The meat packing industry is naturally a basic guide to the importance of the retail meat business. According to the census of manufactures of 1923, showing the relative importance of industries, the slaughtering and meat packing industries rank first in cost of materials which amount to $2,176,101,000. Furthermore, in the value of products, the meat packing industry ranks third with a total of $2,585,804,000.

Estimated Business Done in Retail Meat Industry

To determine the volume of business done in the retail meat industry and over the retail counter presents a difficult problem. Published figures on this subject can only be taken as a guide so that approximate totals can be arrived at. The table presented herewith, through the courtesy of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, shows the amount spent by the average American annually for thirty luxuries and necessities. These figures do not represent the total expenditures including housing, fuel, lighting and other large amounts. However, they indicate the type of articles enjoying the largest demand and serve as a basis for comparison.

Is Meat Bill $41.00 Yearly?

Is this figure of $41.00 spent annually for meat correct? It may be checked up by taking as another guide the tables showing the per capita meat consumption in the United States as furnished by the United States Department of Agriculture and released in February, 1927. According to these government statistics, the total meat and lard consumption for the year of 1926 was 156.3 lbs. per capita.

Multiplying this amount, 156.3, by the estimated population in the United States of 117,000,000, the figures prove that we consume 18,287,100,000 lbs. of meat and lard annually. The important question arises now as to what the average retail selling price is per lb. of meat. By taking as aguide the figures shown in the accompanying table, the average wholesale selling price of beef in four average large cities was 14.22 cents per lb. in 1925. As is clearly demonstrated in another part of this book, the retailer should add at least 90% to his original or PRIME cost in order to make a fair profit on his meat.



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