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Just in time for the summer grilling season, Moo & Oink products returned to store shelves last Friday.
Rib tips, all beef hotdogs and a variety of pork, beef and turkey hot links are just a sampling of the 20 products that fans of the defunct retail meat company can fill their shopping carts with at their local community grocer.
Best Chicago Meat (BCM) is re-introducing Moo & Oink products in 26 stores in the Chicago-area market, as well as Indiana and Michigan. Best Chicago Meat took over Moo & Oink's brand last year when the company fell on hard times and went into bankruptcy. Moo & Oink shuttered its four stores, including its Austin store last fall.
Since the sale of Moo & Oink, Best Chicago Meat has worked to reintroduce the company by ensuring longtime Moo & Oink customers have access to the same products they are used to. The company has been working with its suppliers to get the Moo & Oink recipes correct.
Best Chicago Meat is no stranger to the Moo & Oink brand. It has manufactured a dozen Moo & Oink meat products for years. But Dave Van Kampen, Best Chicago Meat's president and COO, said his company is excited to see Moo & Oink back on the market.
"It's taken some time to get all this put together and really start up the company again," he said, "so it's been a lot of work. Obviously we are trying to bring the product back to its prime."
Other products include pork and beef bacon, beef patties, breakfast sausage patties and chicken products like nuggets, tenderloins and breast patties. Additionally, BCM plans to market barbeque sauces under the Moo & Oink brand.
BCM selected these products based on sales data and customer feedback from Moo & Oink's website. Also BCM has hired former Moo & Oink employees to select products for this rollout.
"As we interact at the store level or community events with consumers, we have our ears wide open for what else they are asking for," Van Kampen said.
BCM plans to roll out more products in phases but hopes to have all products out by mid-May, just in time for the summer grilling season. Van Kampen said his company aims to market Moo & Oink products as the go-to brand for summer barbecues. He said his company wants to bring "thrill to the grill."
"We are really looking at being a barbecue-centric brand. So any time you think of barbecue, you've got to think of Moo & Oink," Van Kampen said.
While the company re-invents the Moo & Oink brand, Van Kampen said they will stay true to Moo & Oink's commitment to community. The company seeks opportunities to sponsor community events including youth sports program and hold demonstrations of Moo & Oink products at outdoor festivals.
"We don't want to lose the heritage of Moo & Oink. It has always been part of the community, and we want to maintain that.
Best Chicago Meat purchased the company in a bankruptcy auction in December 2011 for $530,000. The sale included the company's iconic logo, name, website, catchy commercial jingle and the recipes for several of its meat products. Declining sales and a sagging economy doomed the retail meat company, whose history dates back 150 years.
The products can be found in five Chicago stores and several suburban markets. No West Side stores carry the product yet. The nearest location is Cermak Produce in Cicero and Dearborn Food, 2455 S. Damen Ave. To find Moo & Oink products near you, visit www.moo-oink.com.
Van Kampen said his company wanted to expand into more suburban markets, such as Decatur, Lombard, Joliet and Naperville. The expansion, he said "is a huge opportunity" that will allow Moo & Oink to gain ground in suburban markets "where it never was a big brand."
While the products are in smaller community-based stores, Van Kampen said they are in talks with mainstream grocers like Ultra, Strack & Van Til and Food 4 Less to carry the brand. Moo & Oink products will hit select Jewel stores on Memorial Day weekend.