Commodity Blog

Sep 14 2021

The Food Biz Episode 9 Recap: Keeping up with the Sandwich King

On this week’s episode of The Food Biz podcast, hosts Kristyn Tarpey and Ryan Nelson are joined by Jeff Mauro, host of the Food Network series The Kitchen and Sandwich King, owner of Mauro Provisions, and author of the cookbook Come on Over.

This week's episode provides insights into Jeff's business, the impacts of COVID-19, and some of the Sandwich King's crowning achievements.  The three kick off the episode with an overview of Jeff‘s company, Mauro Provisions, which brings some of Chicago’s beloved food, including Italian sausage and giardiniera, to people across the country.  Jeff started his company selling butcher boxes with hand-cut chops, steaks, and pork that shipped directly to consumers.  Jeff explains how he saw a gap in the market for premium food products and took this opportunity to create a craft giardiniera.  He then started developing their rubs, cheese sauce, and sandwich kits, which became a focus of the brand.

Kristyn, Ryan and Jeff then dive into a discussion into the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain and pricing.  Jeff explains that he’s seen an increase in meat prices, and he’s had to raise the prices on all of his butcher boxes to offset the increase in cost.  Jeff hasn’t seen an increase in the cost of ingredients for his giardiniera; however, he’s had difficulty sourcing and producing packages and containers.  Ryan adds that shipping containers used to cost around $1,940 to ship to Europe, but during the pandemic, prices have increased to around $14,000.  

The three continue discussing the challenges caused by COVID, including labor shortages. Jeff adds that he believes the companies that were able to keep their employees working through the pandemic instead of laying them off are seeing the lowest struggle with labor shortages.  While the pandemic has created many challenges for business, Jeff discusses how he appreciates the opportunity it gave him to create content from home.  The three discuss how this has leveled the playing field and allowed creators without large production budgets to compete.  Jeff also adds that people love to see the realities of filming from home, and he believes it resonates with them.

The conversation transitions into a discussion on trends in the food industry and how Jeff can expand his business.  Jeff explains that when he was creating the label for his giardiniera, he didn’t think he needed to include that it was gluten-free, grain-free, etc, but he now believes that companies that include these call-outs sell more products.  Jeff also adds that he’s not sure if creating an alternative meat product would align properly with his target audience; however, it’s definitely something he’s considering.  

Kristyn, Ryan, and Jeff wrap up the episode on a lighter note - discussing the age-old question of “is a hot dog a sandwich?”  Want to know their opinion?  Listen to the entire episode on Spotify or in the Apple Podcasts App to find out!  While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe!  

Reach out to us by email at news@barchart.com with any discussion topics, questions, comments, or overall feedback; Ryan and Kristyn would love to hear from you!

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