Old-School Supermarket Meat Departments

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Ouisch
Novice Member
Posts: 1
Joined: 05 Oct 2019 14:32

Old-School Supermarket Meat Departments

Post by Ouisch » 09 Oct 2019 15:00

Hi everyone! New member here. I am researching an article about old-school supermarkets (basically, things I remember as a kid while shopping with Mom).

I'll definitely post more questions in the future, but for the moment I'm interested to hear from anyone who either worked in the meat department or has industry knowledge on two points:

Do you remember the Hobart mechanized line that was often in place (in full visibility to customers) behind the butcher's cawse/ meat display at chain supermarkets? Cuts of meat were placed on pressed board (or some container; I'm not sure if they used styrofoam at the time), and the container moved down an automated line that wrapped it in cellophane and then placed a label on it and then stamped a price on the label. As a child, that was the highlight of my weekly trip to the grocery store with Mom, and it disappointed me when the machine wasn't in operation.

I'm wondering why this machine eventually was apparently relegated to the "back room". I can only guess - it took up too much room? Customers didn't like to see the butcher in his bloody apron setting the meat into the containers? Hygienic reasons? Any insider input would be much appreciated!

Secondly, when I was growing up (1960s/70s era), the meat on display was separated by plastic green vegetation. I know that the tactic at the time was to make the meat lookl fresher, "more red", but my local grocery stores no longer use those plastic green veggie dividers. Any verifiable info as to A) what those dividers were called, and B) why grocery stores no longer use them?

Thanks very much for your help!

Super S
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Joined: 07 Jan 2006 00:40

Re: Old-School Supermarket Meat Departments

Post by Super S » 21 Nov 2019 11:32

As for the meat wrapping machine...in stores that still package meat onsite, the windows have gradually given way to taller refrigerated cases that can fit more product. This was a change I noticed at Albertsons during the 1980s, but also keep in mind that they added service meat/seafood counters in many stores. The only store where I can think of that still has a visible meat cutting area is Costco.

Another factor is that meat departments have to maintain a cooler temperature and have refrigeration equipment running constantly. There is probably some cost savings with a solid insulated wall versus windows which do not insulate as well. I am not sure if this is a significant difference.

There are some stores which also package meat at other nearby locations and ship it in to lower volume stores. So nothing really to see at those locations.

TW-Upstate NY
Senior Member
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Joined: 18 Sep 2006 20:45

Re: Old-School Supermarket Meat Departments

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 21 Nov 2019 12:34

Visible meat-cutting areas are hardly a thing of the past in my area and are quite common at local Price Chopper and Hannaford stores.

BillyGr
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Posts: 130
Joined: 10 Feb 2006 22:35
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Old-School Supermarket Meat Departments

Post by BillyGr » 21 Nov 2019 20:40

Super S wrote:
21 Nov 2019 11:32
Another factor is that meat departments have to maintain a cooler temperature and have refrigeration equipment running constantly. There is probably some cost savings with a solid insulated wall versus windows which do not insulate as well. I am not sure if this is a significant difference.
TW-Upstate NY wrote:
21 Nov 2019 12:34
Visible meat-cutting areas are hardly a thing of the past in my area and are quite common at local Price Chopper and Hannaford stores.
In fact, putting those two together, our local Hannaford has the packaging equipment right behind the service meat counter (which is basically a half circle bump out from the back wall) and the entire space above is totally open to the store (since that is where the service counter employee - who is often also packaging meat if no one needs service - would hand you whatever you order).

Thus even less insulated than a window would be - maybe they can use one of those blower coolers similar to what you often encounter when you enter a doorway that stops the transfer between areas?

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