One Vast Menu
Butcher & Packer helps food processors achieve the tastes they desire with its extensive product list and by continually developing new ingredients
Butcher & Packer has been supplying food processors with everything from natural herbs and spices to the gloves they wear to prepare food since 1937. “We have always serviced the food industry. Our philosophy is, if a product had a use in 1937 and still does today, we carry it,” Vice President Stu Blohm says. “We focus on ingredients, offer casings for sausage and some small equipment. Today, we offer more than 6,000 products.”
In 1952, Blohm’s great-grandfather and grandfather purchased the Detroit, Mich.-based company. Today, Blohm and his brother, Drew, are the fourth-generation leaders and their father, Fritz, is the business owner. Nine years ago, the company moved to a larger facility in Madison Heights, Mich. “We are a small, family owned business and try to treat everyone who works here like family,” Blohm says. “We have a low turnover rate because of that and most people work for us until they retire.”
Butcher & Packer prides itself on being technically savvy and assisting its customers in how to use its ingredients. “A lot of companies in our industry are just order takers; a customer calls them up and orders, but they can’t get technical help on anything,” Blohm says. “We can help a novice to a big-time company that wants detailed technical help.”
In addition to serving big food processors, Butcher & Packer also offers its ingredients and spice blends to the general public. “We are all about being able to technically help everyone,” Blohm emphasizes. “Our push is service. We sell our products, but also provide service after the sale by answering questions. If someone wants to make fermented sausage, we have people here who will spend an hour-and-a-half on the phone for a $10 item. We pride ourselves on our service and want to make everyone as happy as we can.”
Blohm is a self-proclaimed foodie and travels extensively on personal vacations to experience different flavors throughout the world. His travel has come in handy as he says one of the biggest changes he is noticing is that people’s palettes are expanding and they are looking for more unique items.
“People are being exposed to more unique flavors and now people are so much more dynamic where they are willing to try something from China and Thailand,” Blohm notes. “I am always coming out with new stuff, but a lot of our research and development is driven by customer requests. We have come out with about 14 new general products a year, which are for everyone.”
Butcher & Packer says right now most of its focus is on developing clean label ingredients for its customers. “We have been at the forefront of natural ingredients for the past 15 years now, so we have it down pretty well,” Blohm says. “Fifteen years ago, it was a difficult thing to do as there were not a lot of products available, but now it’s more about helping the customers figure out what they want to change.”
The company is also working to develop ingredients for plant-based options. “It’s different because when you are working with plant-based items, you don’t have certain characteristics that you would with meat proteins that make flavors easier to work with,” Blohm explains. “We are starting to work on that now as people are really getting more interested in having plant-based options.”
Butcher & Packer usually performs two taste tests with its customers before achieving exactly what they want. With clean label ingredients however, it can take up to four to five tests before achieving the exact taste.
Moving forward, Butcher & Packer plans to continue developing new blends of herbs and spices as the industry and people’s palettes change. Above all else, the company will continue to maintain its exceptional level of service that its customers have come to expect.
The company stays abreast of changing trends and consumer demands through a variety of channels, one of which is its suppliers. “We have really long-term relationships with people in the industry,” Blohm says. “There are very few herbs and spices that can be grown in the United States, Canada and Mexico, so the majority of the spices we have originate overseas. We have to develop trustworthy relationships – trusting the people you get ingredients from is hugely important. They also let us know what’s new and where the trends are going.”