In a recent article for the Globe and Mail, Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy, said tapping into a niche meat market is possible with an incremental approach and starting with a decent-sized market.
Market testing and market study without investing heavy capital into retail was also recommended. Educating the market about the products including the different types of cuts available and how they can be used in recipes is also a challenge, he said.
Ways of marketing the products, especially for an online company, include getting involved in catering opportunities, attending local food fairs and learning from customers’ preferences.
The suggestions came after Maillard, an online butcher shop based in Terrebonne, a suburb of Montreal asked for ideas to establish a market for the company in English-speaking Canada.
The company is an offshoot of TGV distribution, a meat and frozen-food Company, which delivers to major grocery store chains and processing plants in Quebec, and now has only 5 percent of its total business in Ontario where it seeks to expand.
Maillard said Ontario is proving to be a battle for the company because customers were not ready to buy frozen meats online as they feared it would thaw before reaching them or while waiting outside the door before they got home. However, the company said its meats delivery system can keep the products frozen for up to 30 hours and customers dint have to worry about hurrying back home because the meats would thaw.
The cultural factors at Ontario vary from those at Quebec as a higher number of trendy restaurants in Ontario means people are more likely to eat out rather than cook premium meats at home. But the company feels this could work in its favor as it means more people are likely to order small portions of meat online rather than seek out huge sizes of cheaper meat.
Another expert, Chef Noah Goldberg, who owns Peter Pan Bistro in Toronto, suggested some other options too. His ideas include teaming up with chefs to create signature meals and focusing on the distribution side of the business more. He also added that the difference in culture between Ontario and Quebec meant that people in Ontario were more likely to buy single portions of meat from the grocery store.
Opening a retail format was also advised, but rather than a capital intensive one, Goldberg suggested a butcher shop pop-up would work better for an online company seeking to promote its meat and meat delivery. The credibility and advertising from a physical store could help in marketing, he said.