CROCKPOTS OR SLOW COOKERS have made a comeback, and that bodes well for retailers' sales of pot roasts and stew meat.
This fall — probably driven by the economic downturn — there's been a renewed focus on pot roasts in supermarket meat cases, and a parallel renewed focus on slow cookers in the consumer media.
At Piggly Wiggly Carolina, sales of pot roasts are up, and oven roasts are down.
“People are definitely using crockpots more. They cut prep time so much,” said Freddie Sullens, meat director, at 103-unit Piggly Wiggly Carolina, Charleston, S.C.
Other retailers concurred. They've been fielding questions from customers about whether they can cook a particular item in their slow cooker. Customers want recipes, too, they said.
“Crockpot cooking has always been popular in the Midwest,” Hy-Vee's Kenan Judge said. “We run a crockpot promotion that gives customers a $10-off coupon on a crockpot when they buy a certain bundle of meat items, and the numbers on that promotion are huge.”
Meanwhile, crockpots are everywhere in the consumer media. Not just on cooking shows, either.
Indeed, celebrity chef Paula Deen, a guest on a recent CNN news program, showed viewers “how to make a healthy meal in a crockpot that will feed the whole family.” As she talked, Deen stirred big hunks of ham and three different kinds of beans in a family-sized slow cooker.
Even Oprah's O Magazine, which usually features recipes for esoteric fare like poached figs with goat cheese and rare herbs, ran a lengthy article on the joys of crockpot cooking.
And a retail consultant told SN he keeps hearing consumers talk about the convenience of the appliances.
“I've heard many times in focus groups with consumers that they are using pressure cookers more as they do more cooking at home, and crockpots, too. It was an interesting insight,” said Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillan Doolittle, Chicago.
Meanwhile, Shelley Bradway, marketing manager for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Denver, told SN that since NCBA has put its “Beef Training Camp” online, it's easy for retailers to access recipes and cooking recommendations they can pass on to their customers. The NCBA's website is beefretail.org .