Keeping up with the ever-changing business in the deli department can be daunting, but that’s where brokers thrive. It is a huge stress relief to have a brokerage partner in your contact list, especially during the holidays, promotional periods, and unforeseen circumstances such as the COVID pandemic. I tapped Chris Chatterton, Vice President of Operations, and Erin McCulloch-Crume, Director of Deli and Emerging Business, over at Bay Food Brokerage to explore the opportunities and time-saving solutions the deli counter can benefit from.
“As a broker, we are the liaison between the manufacturer and the retailer, and we specialize in really understanding the retailer and the specific markets within that retailer’s area of business,” Erin says, inducting me into the brokerage world. “We help facilitate those conversations between the manufacturer and retailer while also being the eyes and ears in the store. We represent center store to perishables, and our heavy focus on the deli sector helps ease the burden retailers face, helping maximize the relationship for both sides of the business.”
Not only does Bay Food Brokerage help manufacturers understand what products fit which markets, they help facilitate truck arrivals, pricing setup, invoicing, promotions, and communication in-store. Having a dedicated partner to come to bat for you to see business through is beneficial both in terms of time-saving and brand awareness as Bay Food Brokerage provides a diverse portfolio of tools and specialties.
“In the last five to six years, we have diversified across the entire store; we handle both the perimeter and now center store. Since our founding in 1993, we serviced a lot of mature clients in the perishable arena, but we want to be able to continue to grow as a business,” Chris tells me. “Retail delis are focusing on continuing to meet consumers’ demands for quick and easy meal solutions, something that you can place an order over the phone or app and have ready for pickup or delivery. Prepared meal solutions are something that is going to continue to make an impact in the foreseeable future, and we want to help grocers reach that demand.”
Cooking fatigue is very much a concern shoppers keep in mind when filling up the basket—a trend I’m very much aware of as I recently bought a rotisserie chicken. To keep the inspiration up and prep time down, Bay Food Brokerage is elbow-deep in the deli counter helping retailers retain register rings.
“One of the things we’re really focused on with our retail partners is listening and hearing their concerns, opportunities for growth, and how we can help them think outside the box. This is made possible in partnership with our manufacturers to drive and bring solutions to them,” Erin elaborates. “To help the deli keep those consumers coming back to the deli, we have some strategies for both sides of the partnership, educating them on what products are really executable at retail in addition to what a consumer would be looking for.”
Not only are consumers looking for ease and convenience, but the diversification of products is also important. With the new year just around the corner, many shoppers are turning their attention to healthier resolutions. Having a wide variety of cuisines and options will pique the consumer interest while also meeting their needs.
“Whether that be in prepackaged type items that you can just heat up or have a whole meal in a clamshell, the deli is where shoppers can go to put together a healthy and satisfactory solution to mid-week shopping,” Chris further comments. “Manufacturers are creating a simple approach for the deli team to then assemble something that looks really appealing, appetizing, and convenient. People eat with their eyes, so if it looks good in the case, then people are going to be more apt to buy that. And so that’s important as well.”
With all the shifting factors happening in and around the deli case, having a partner in hand to help mitigate stress is a major win, both for supply and buy. And that’s where we can work together to bring success for all.