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    WEB EXTRA: Sterling's Gold

    Hawaiian operator’s customers accept no imitations of Cargill brand

    For Elden Kimura, director of meat operations at Honolulu-based Times/Big Save Supermarkets, Sterling Silver Meats have proved a solid-gold success. At the start, though, he admits that the grocery chain’s customers needed a bit of a push to try the product.

    “In the very beginning, we knew we had a premium product, but needed to convince the customers of that and of why they would have to pay a higher retail in comparison to your regular choice graded beef,” recounts Kimura. “So, for a whole weekend, we set up a tent and a grill in one of our parking lots and cooked Sterling Silver Top Sirloin Steaks to pass out as samples. We did this as well as providing the service of seasoning and cooking any Sterling Silver Meat that they purchased at the store.”

    The results were immediate. “We experienced great feedback from the customers, with inquiries of what type of steak did they just have, because it was so soft and flavorful,” says Kimura. “They also wanted to know what kind of seasoning we used. They were astonished to know that the steak was a Top Sirloin, and the seasoning was just olive oil and a rock salt seasoned with garlic, black pepper and ginger powder. They wanted more and were jokingly asking for rice with their steak sample.”

    Those requests led to another successful initiative at Times/Big Save. “We decided to sell a Sterling Silver Steak Plate in our service deli,” Kimura says. “We offered 8 ounces of grilled Sterling Silver Top Sirloin steak, tossed salad, rice and a drink, for $6.99. This was a huge hit as the customers realized that this was a great deal for the price and the quality of food. It became the talk of the town, and we started having them at different locations on different days.”

    Unsurprisingly, the popularity of the offering spawned imitators. Kimura notes that “our two main competitors tried to copy our program, food trucks were selling steak plates, [and] a franchise called Blazing Steaks … seemed to pop up all over the islands, with their signature dish being a steak plate.”

    These copycats were missing one key element, however. “The problem for them was, none of them had and could use Sterling Silver,” explains Kimura. “The [Blazing Steaks] franchise is now bankrupt, our competition discontinued the program and the food trucks changed their menus.”

    Also importantly for Kimura, his chain is solidly identified with the superior beef brand in consumers’ minds. “Here in Hawaii, if you ask a person on the street about Sterling Silver, they would probably respond [by] mentioning [the] Times Sterling Silver Steak Plate,” he says.

    But it’s not all about steak at Times/Big Save. Notes Kimura, “We also utilize our foodservice department to help promote other [Sterling Silver] product as well, with grilled guava BBQ pork spareribs, roast pork with a mushroom gravy, and beef pot roast dishes, to name a few.”

    Such versatility is just one reason that Kimura can’t say enough great things about the brand. Beyond the solid farm-to-fork information retailers receive, he notes that “the Sterling Silver marketing team continually assists us with a wide variety of promotions, employee training workshops, point-of-sale material and marketing funding, etc. We pride ourselves and promote ourselves as having ‘The Best Meat in the Islands.’ We provide a quality product at a reasonable price. But honestly, when it’s all said and done, the product sells itself. The quality of the products shines through when you eat it.”

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