CHICAGO -- It's official: The Meat Marketing Technology Center will be open for business this month.
After a few false starts, the National Cattleman's Beef Association will run its first program on Value-Based Meat Management here May 14 to 17, according to Michael Uetz, a spokesman for the center.
"We are going to run the first program of value-based meat management at the center in Chicago," he told SN.
Eight retailers and one wholesale group are signed up for the first session, with another wholesaler expected to commit to it shortly.
"We can only take eight to 10 per session, so that fills us up," Uetz said. He would not disclose the names of the operators that comprise the inaugural class.
The center's stated purpose is "to effect change in the retail meat marketing department with implementation of improved information and management systems so the meat industry can be more consumer-driven to regain market share and profitability."
The program will begin with a trends overview and a state-of-the-industry report on Tuesday evening, followed in the next two days by topics such as implementing URMIS/UPC nomenclature and numbering, product categorization and a CARDS, or Computer Assisted Retail Decision Support, overview.
As part of the program, participants receive value-based meat management costing software in two parts, coordinated with the two parts of the session -- first the costing software, then merchandising software during part two.
"Retailers will come to class, get the information and materials, and go back and implement the first part of the program using the software to monitor costs and profitability on a per-cut basis," Uetz explained.
"Three to four months later [during part two of the program] we will give them merchandising software -- a planning tool which helps them project sales and costs for the future, based on historical data.
"The whole first part is designed to get them started, to get the program ready to go."
Implementing the program will not take the place of finding a partner with whom to initiate a full category management program, Uetz cautioned. "Our goal is to build foundation for the control of category management in the meat case. Value-Based Meat Management is not a category management program -- it is really designed to set the groundwork for category management. There are organizations out there who are going to want to get started in the program so that they can partner with a retailer or supplier."
The center will be located at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, Uetz said, with some classes being held at NCBA facilities as well.