Dietz & Watson Inc. has a beef with Boar’s Head Provision Co., its larger competitor.
Case in point: About a dozen Harris Teeter supermarkets in the Charlotte, N.C., area dropped Dietz & Watson products this spring in order to carry Boar’s Head. A couple of food-oriented blogs buzzed with customer comments praising or panning the switch.
But seeking exclusivity is Boar’s Head’s business model, according to Mark Lang, a food marketing lecturer at St. Joseph’s University. He saw it firsthand as a marketing executive at Publix Super Markets Inc. in Florida, where Boar’s Head has managed the 900-story chain’s deli cases for years.
Most areas of a supermarket are self-service. Not the deli or bakery, where customers must ask interact with employees to get the cold cuts or birthday cakes they want.
I called Boar’s Head’s corporate offices in Sarasota, Fla., seeking comment. With the spokeswoman on vacation, I asked to speak with someone in management about its practices. No one called back.
Dietz & Watson calls itself the No. 2 deli brand, which is quite possible but with the biggest players all privately held it’s hard to get independent confirmation. Eni would say only that Dietz & Watson has annual sales of more than $300 million, having grown at a double-digit pace for several years in a row.
Eni insists Dietz & Watson is making more inroads than it is losing. It recently began distributing products to Meijer, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based chain of 189 stores in the Midwest. Costco Wholesale warehouse clubs is another new client.
Why doesn’t Dietz & Watson fight back with its own exclusivity arrangements? Eni said he thinks that it's unfair to customers to limit their choices.