Yesterday we gave a behind-the-scenes look at some challenges retailers deal with on a daily basis. Today, we introduce you to a couple of men who work hard to make sure the beef you produce ends up in shopping carts and on dinner tables across the country.

Ed Steinmetz, Giant Eagle

While you’re calving, feeding, fixing and haying, Ed Steinmetz is focused on things like sourcing meat products, shadow pricing and managing shrink.

Many days he may rather be outside. He’s a fisherman and when the weather and timing are right, you might find him boating on Lake Erie, but by day his heart is where it’s been for the last 30+ years: retail.

A rancher’s  and a grocer’s world might seem like polar opposites but they have an important commonality: beef.

Ed is is currently the senior vice president of meat and seafood for Giant Eagle. The Northeastern grocery chain numbers more than 220 stores, which means hundreds of thousands of consumers to keep happy.

One way he does that? Provide them with high-quality products like Certified Angus Beef® and CAB Prime.

“Our focus has been on premium beef,” Ed tells us.  “We are competing with folks who are selling a Select program and in today’s economy in some customers’ minds that might represent more of a value: cheaper.”

But he doesn’t see it that way.

I think what’s still important in today’s economy is to differentiate yourself. One of those ways to do that is by having a quality program.  It’s an assurance that the experience the consumer gets is a good one,” he says.

David Savidge, Buehler’s, addresses producers at the 2011 Cattlemen’s College in Denver

Dave Savidge, director of meat merchandising at Buehler’s Fresh Foods, one of our licensed partners based just down the road in Wooster, Ohio, couldn’t agree more. His customers enter the store expecting quality, and the store’s bottom line depends on it.

(When folks walk into a Buehler’s they are greeted by things like a CAB-licensed diner and an in-store child care center so customers can accomplish their shopping sans-kiddos. Evidence their shoppers have come to expect great service, too.)

Maybe it helps to share a home town with the brand, but CAB —including the exquisite CAB® Prime Natural—have been such a big part of that success, Savidge has become an ambassador of sorts. And, since one of their flagship stores is just a few stoplights away from the new Education & Culinary Center, he gets that opportunity fairly often when other retailers visit.

“We become stronger if we all work together,” Savidge says. “If CAB brings non-licensed retailers out, I’ll meet with them to tell them the truth about CAB. It’s not like any other brand. I’m able to give them that, ‘I’m living it’ perspective.”

These guys know how hard you work, and they know how hard they have to work to keep beef as a protein of choice. They and their teams are up for the challenge!

Beef’s a Trip Archives:

Day 1: Starting at day one

Day 2: Who are these people?

Day 3: Stockholders

Day 4: The cowherd’s purpose

Day 5: Deciding to care

Day 6: Quality focus doesn’t have to skip the middleman

Day 7: Stocking for quality

Day 8: SOLD!

Day 9: What have you done today?

Day 10: Working together to make ‘em better

Day 11: Keep on truckin’

Day 12: Packers want quality

Day 13: The target

Day 14: Packers up close & personal

Day 15: It’s not all about the beef

Day 16: Further processors

Day 17: From here to there–and a lot more

Day 18: He’s on your team

Day 19: Beyond prices, grocery stores uncovered

Day 20: Getting quality in the carts

PS—Holly Spangler’s “30 days on a Prairie Farm” series goes on, along with lots of other folks blogging their way through November. Check out her series to find the whole list.