MERCHANDISING: Food Phenomenon

In Albuquerque last week, Maytag distributors sold four carloads of home freezers, about 25% more than they normally sell in a whole year. Reason for the jump: the distributors offered guarantees to provide frozen foods at "wholesale" prices, i.e., what supermarkets pay—anywhere from 20% to 30% below retail prices.

To do this, Maytag's Rocky Mountain distributors made deals to buy bulk lots from big frozen-food wholesalers (including such top brands as Birds Eye, Snow Crop, Pictsweet, etc.), then passed the goods on to freezer buyers without additional markups. Explained Maytag's Santa Fe Manager John McCauley: "We're not interested in making...

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