Direct-to-consumer (DTC) meat brand ButcherBox has hit the store shelves of big-box membership retailer BJ’s Wholesale Club, marking its first major limited-edition retail launch. ButcherBox is a subscription-based online butcher and retailer, with a focus on high quality and grass fed meats.
Founder and CEO Mike Salguero first started ButcherBox in 2015 after finding that 100% grass-fed beef was not readily accessible in the U.S.
Last year, Salguero took the stage at industry grocery event Grocery Shop in Las Vegas making it clear that his company was looking to find a grocer partner to get ButcherBox on store shelves.
“Why am I here? We [ButcherBox] want to get into the grocery store,” Salguero said at the time.
He noted that many at the time may have looked at e-commerce grocery penetration and wondered why ButcherBox wouldn’t just stay online?
“The reality is that, while everyone is talking about how much online purchasing is happening, it’s actually really just happening in grocery,” he said.
Starting May 25, ButcherBox’s exclusive “Grill Box” will be available in 129 BJ’s Wholesale Clubs through August.
Salguero told Supermarket News that the BJ’s collaboration started when ButcherBox was first testing in physical stores last year. They worked with specialty retailers such as smaller farm stores, and cheese and wine shops, in order to get an understanding of the product mix and what may work in a retail setting versus what works in an e-commerce setting.
“From there, we took our learnings and brought them to larger retail chains. Our chief procurement officer, Michael Billings, spent more than 25 years at BJ’s building their meat and seafood division from scratch, so the relationship began through him and his connections at the company.”
The grill box will be carried at select BJ’s clubs in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.
“Over the last few years, we’ve been focused on building our direct business on ButcherBox.com, while also expanding our brand footprint by leveraging retail opportunities in an effort to increase access to our products,” Salguero told SN. “Our launch in BJ’s is helping us reach a new target customer, one we know is focused on quality and value but may be hesitant to shop online for their groceries. We are also excited to help existing customers shop in-store between their monthly deliveries."
As the direct-to-consumer landscape continues to evolve, brands are testing out physical retail strategies to meet consumers where they are (70% still shopping in-store for groceries). While e-commerce grocery saw a large uptick during COVID, a substantial segment of consumers are still shopping at brick-and-mortar grocery stores.
While Salguero notes that the business has been built on the subscription model, and has proven to be very successful, “We look at this opportunity as an extension of our brand in bringing claims-based meat to a broader audience. We are looking at this retail launch as an opportunity to meet more consumers where they are shopping. ”
“Being a bootstrapped business, it’s exciting to see new avenues for the business to grow knowing we didn’t need a huge investor to make that happen for us,” added Salguero. “If anything, this proves that DTC brands can be successful in the e-commerce setting while straddling other markets.”
For BJ’s, the grill box will feature over seven pounds of “high-quality, humanely raised meat” at a retail price of $99. It includes grass-fed, grass-finished ribeye steaks, burgers, and steak tips and humanely raised, crate-free pork chops and Italian pork sausage links.
The partnership with BJ’s has Salguero optimistic as the brand is focused on continuing to understand what the right product mix is for a brick-and-mortar space.
“We’re optimistic that new customers will become more familiar with the ButcherBox brand, but that also existing customers have a way to shop in-store between their monthly deliveries,” he said.