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What is behind the Boar's Head Monopoly?

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  • VivreManger Jan 13, 2004 11:27 PM
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The recent reference to Boar's Head Deli meats in the thread below on New England Jewish Delis, an oxymoron if ever there was one, raised an issue that has long piqued my curiosity. How has such an inferior supplier come to dominate the deli business? The point was driven home a few days ago as I was walking down mid-town Manhattan, 7th avenue, crossing 52nd street, when I spied not one but two Boar's Head delivery trucks playing their wares catty corner.

My local Stop & Shop in Massachusetts used to stock their own deli store brand, including a very tasty turkey roll withhad skin and a bit of fat. When you ate it, you could almost imagine that at one time it was a bird and not plastic. The Boar's Head monopoly took over and the turkey disappeared. High-priced plastic is all they sell. The stuff is about 2 to 3 dollars more expensive than the old brand and tastes ten times worse.

John Dewar's Butchery in Newton did stock one Board's Head product that was edible, a sharp Canadian cheddar, but his was the only store in which I have ever seen it. The butcher -- does any one know his name? -- agreed with me that all of their products are lousy, with this one exception. He said that they are in fact a Canadian company and therefore managed to get this decent Canadian cheese. Otherwise, forget it.

Could some wise guys be involved in spreading the tentacles of this purveyor?

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  1. Wise marketing guys anyway. That stuff is all over the US and with their fake gold leaf and calling it "provisions" instead of "loaf" they seem to have bogussed everyone into thinking it's some kind of premium product. Go figure.

    2 Replies
    1. re: john clark

      out of the Netherlands. It sounds like "Royal A-hole", but I'm sure they never intended it that way.

      just a thought.... and a chuckle.

      1. re: Soorbi

        Down here in the DC area, another part of the Royal Ahold family, Giant Food, got rid of Boars Head and replaced it with Dietz & Watson.

    2. I was wondering where to post this, but I would not have thought that not about food would be the better place. Isn't there a venue that discusses the marketing and production of food as well as its quality???

      The other question was whether Boar's Head is national or regional. I only know it in New England and the Northeast. It was the comment on Boar's Head in Vermont that prompted me to spin off that thread and post it here.

      I am happy to repost it, but is there no other forum that might suit it better??

      4 Replies
      1. re: VivreManger

        I would think General Topics. BTW, I emailed Stop & Shop to ask why they are using so much Boar's Head cuz I've been wondering the same thing. We'll see if they reply.

        1. re: Joanie

          Down here in the DC area, the Giant chain (part of the Ahold family as well) replaced Boar's Head with Dietz & Watson a few years ago as their primary cold cut brand, for everything from roast beef to olive loaf.

          I had never heard of Dietz & Watson but it's generally good stuff, albeit pricy. The sliced london broil is quite a treat.

        2. re: VivreManger

          Boar's Head is ubiquitous in the Midwest and also appears out here in California.

          1. re: VivreManger

            We agree that the naming of our various boards isn't optimal. The General Topics board is for practical discussion of food (e.g. "are Boar's Head products any good?", "What is olive loaf, anyway, and why does anyone eat the stuff?!") The Not About Food Board is the place to discuss food distribution and possible monopolies in that area. Hope that clears it up!

          2. a
            AlanH™ (formerly AlanH)

            First, Boar's Head is NOT a monopoly. Second, Stop and Shop is owned by a multi-national corporation, no longer a locally-owned chain. I'd be willing to bet it was a reasonably sound business decision that led to the change. Perhaps the cost of maintaining a deli manufacturing plant, or perhaps consumers simply demanded the Boar's Head to a much greater degree.

            2 Replies
            1. re: AlanH™ (formerly AlanH)

              The Stop & Shop I go to (in NY) does still have their own turkey & roast beef (& ham?). It is cheaper than the BH, and I like it better.

              1. re: dude
                a
                AlanH™ (formerly AlanH)

                Well, there ya go. Perhaps it's a decision on a store by store basis, based on what sells? I'll have to check my local one out.

            2. I have witnessed the quality of Boar's Head products drop over the years as their prices continue to soar. Used to be top shelf stuff when it was a small, regional NE brand.

              1 Reply
              1. re: 2chez mike

                I'm in LA now and the Boar's Head "provisions" available here, now, is definitely several notches below what I used to enjoy in NJ twenty years ago.

              2. Butcher's name is Harry, glasses, very friendly, if you spend a hundred he gives you a free loaf of bread.

                1. a
                  AlanH™ (formerly AlanH)

                  Having piqued my interest with this thread, I visited the Stop and Shop in Natick, MA. They carry both S&S and Boar's head brands. I purchased both turkey breast and baked ham of both brands. Both turkeys were quite good. Absolutely clearly "off the bird", not a processed roll, and not saturated by an injected solution. The two were nearly identical, so I'd save the $2/lb and buy the house brand. There is nothing plastic-like about the BH brand as you suggested.
                  The ham on the other hand showed a greater difference. The Boar's Head was the very clear cut winner on this one. Firmer texture, slightly less salty, seemingly less moisture content, and more flavorful. It's actually a darned good product. Not sure where all the bashing is coming from. Sure BH cost more, but sometimes it's worth paying the difference. This is one of those cases.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AlanH™ (formerly AlanH)

                    If you have a Big Y near you, try the Natural Juices Turkey, and you'll see why Boar's Head doesn't always rate as well in people's minds. Of course, I am one who would prefer a real roasted turkey or roast beef made daily and sliced thin. For grocery store deli turkey, however, the Big Y natural juices turkey is the least processed I've tasted.

                  2. We are in the food business and we understand that Boar's Head is made by someone like Hormel and is just a huge marketing machine. So in other words a company may have the same turkey in 2 brands out there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jbenny
                      a
                      AlanH™ (formerly AlanH)

                      Not true. Hey, I was always cynical about Boar's Head until I decided to give them an honest try. Now I am truly convinced that they do have a superior product. maybe not "the best", beut certainly better than most.

                      "Boar's Head Provisions, Co., Inc., manufacturer of the Boar's Head Brand, distributed by Frank Brunckhorst Co., L.L.C"