GIANT FOOD TIES HEALTH INTO BEEF

LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food's nutritionists, working with the chain's meat department and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, have taken lean beef cuts to the ad pages with a good-for-you message.Spurred by an NCBA informational packet that compares lean beef with chicken in nutrient value and fat content, the 197-unit chain's manager of nutrition programs, Janet Tenney, went to work selling

LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food's nutritionists, working with the chain's meat department and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, have taken lean beef cuts to the ad pages with a good-for-you message.

Spurred by an NCBA informational packet that compares lean beef with chicken in nutrient value and fat content, the 197-unit chain's manager of nutrition programs, Janet Tenney, went to work selling the beef/health message to Giant's customers.

Working with the chain's meat department, Tenney and Odonna Mathews, Giant's vice president of consumer affairs, orchestrated a quarter-page ad in the chain's circular that spotlights the NCBA's "Skinny Six" cuts of lean beef. Aggressive pricing was part of the effort, with chuck shoulder roast offered at half price and five other cuts featured at prices that represented savings of 70 cents to $1.60 a pound.

"Certainly, we saw a significant increase in sales of those cuts. Our meat department was very pleased with this promotion. In general, our meat sales, our beef sales, are up," said Tenney.

She added that it's impossible to quantify the general swell of meat sales, but indicated that the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets could be a factor. "We certainly believe that our customers are interested in eating healthy. This promotion falls under our Eat for Health program," Tenney said, as she explained why she advocated pairing health with aggressive pricing in the beef ad.

Her department worked hand-in-hand on the promotion with Giant's meat department, she said. Aside from selling a lot of beef, the promotion set Giant apart in its market area because no other retailers were focusing on the healthy attributes of those cuts of beef.

Giant's ad, featuring chuck shoulder roast, chuck shoulder steak, top round steak, beef tip steak, eye round steak and top sirloin steak, occupied a quarter page in the ad circular that was distributed chainwide.

Next to colorful photographs of the beef cuts is a message from Mathews, who touches on a different subject each week in her column that runs in the circular. This time, she described the "Skinny Six." She pointed out that, on average, they contain just one more gram of saturated fat than skinless chicken breast, based on a three-ounce, cooked portion.

"Beef, just like poultry and seafood, should be enjoyed for its great taste and its nutrient benefits. The truth is lean beef is actually lower in fat than many people realize," said Mathews in her column.

She went on to point out the vitamins and minerals that beef contains.

The Skinny Cuts ad was headlined with an Eat for Health logo and message that says, "Healthy Ideas, Nourishing Body and Mind," and the NCBA's slogan, "Beef. It's What's for Dinner."

NCBA officials said this promotion stood out because it was generated and orchestrated by the nutritionists at Giant.

"They took the initiative when they received the background material we mailed out earlier. They saw it as an opportunity to combine nutrition with a sales promotion. To my knowledge, no other retailer has done that," said Randy Irion, director of retail marketing services for Boulder, Colo.-based NCBA.

"That's what makes this different. We work regularly with Giant on our annual promotions, like our successful grilling promotions, which are funded by beef producers through the check-off program. But this was theirs, their idea. We wish more retailers would do something like that. They just noticed the press release [sent to the consumer press last summer to 'set the record straight about nutrition'], and decided to build a promo around the information."

Giant's Tenney said the chain may run a similar promotion linking health into a beef sales promotion later this year.