Why Woolies ditched BBQ meat tray, in-house butchers
THINK barbecue and lamb chops and sausage sizzling on the grill will probably one of the first images that springs to mind.
But Woolworths has pulled the chops and sausage barbecue packs from its Queensland stores.
And it will also be chopping the in-store butcher from all its Queensland stores within the next three years.
A Coolum Beach customer, who asked not to be identified was told the chops and sausage were ditched because there were concerns about mixing the different meat types.
Woolworths Head of Meat, Pat McEntee said this wasn't the case.
Mr McEntee said feedback from customers had made Woolworths decided to replace the chops and sausage meat tray with a meat pattie and sausage one instead.
"The reason for changing the old chops and sausages pack was that there was not a strong association with customers," Mr McEntee said.
"The uptake from the former barbecue pack was not great so we introduced a new pack as the pattie seems to be more popular."
Mr McEntee said it would be "reviewed".
But Whites IGA owner Roz White said taking the chop out of the barbecue pack was un-Australian.
"It is a good old Aussie tradition," she said
"It is also very popular with our customers."
Mr McEntee explained the loss of the in-store butcher from about 250 Queensland's stores.
He said for "some time now" Woolworths had a percentage of stores which supplied "case ready meat".
The decision had been to transition all stores to this model by 2020.
"As many as 77 stores in Queensland are supplied 'case ready'," Mr McEntee said.
"The remained of about 250 have in-store production."
He explained one the reasons for the change was the difficulty to source butcher apprentices.
"From an industry point of view, it is not getting any easier to maintain skilled labour," he said.
"Not may people want to leave school and get a job as butcher."
Woolworths had been "transitioning from in-store production since 2012".
"The plan for Queensland between now and 2020 is to transition the stores to our new way of working," Mr McEntee said.
The Coolum Woolworths was expected to be the next store on the Sunshine Coast to make the "transition".
"It is taking place at Coolum now and possibly also Beerway," Mr McEntee said.
At the moment, "case ready meat" was being sourced from Ipswich, but Mr McEntee said a new facility in partnership with the Hilton Group was being built.