Publix testing new program that has customers asking, "Where's the meat?"

Pilot test taking place in Central, SW Florida
Posted at 7:45 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 19:45:34-05

Some deli customers at Florida Publix stores are asking, "Where's the meat?"

The popular grocery chain is looking to change things up at the deli counter and the move is buzzing across social media.

It was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times this week and has since spread like wildfire on the internet.

Publix is testing out a new method in several Florida stores, where they no longer offer those complimentary slices of meat at the counter. You have to 'ask' for it.

The company is testing the change in Central and Southwest Florida for now, so South Florida consumers have nothing to fear.

Customers say as silly as it sounds, they don't like a change to age old tradition delis have practices over the years.

"If you try, you buy!" said Adib Salloum, who owns the Mediterranean market and deli.

The mom and pop shop believes offering free samples up front builds relationship with customers.

"Where we can spend time with you and explain to you all the products, how it's made," said Salloum.

The shop offers samples up front, which Salloum says has helped to build a large base of regular customers who buy from him every day.

"They're very good about that. They'll give you everything to try, just put on a napkin," joked Gwen Schattie, a regular customer.

But everyone's buzzing about Publix's latest decision to do away with offering complimentary treats at their deli counter. You now have to ask to get them.

"They gave me a piece and it was great, and i was able to identify it by taste," said Drew Cassara, a Publix customer who was able to find what he needed to replicate a sandwich his mother made by trying various slices.

The West Palm Beach Publix offered the meat up front, which he sees as a courtesy to help win over customers.

"If Publix is going to do something like that where they're going to give something out for free, people will remember that, and they'll come back," he said.

At Amici Market in Palm Beach, employees -- without questions asked -- will lay out several slices of meat before you on parchment paper as you decide which meat to buy.

"We are so close to each other , right here," explains manager Maurizio Ciminella. "They want to taste it. I know they want to taste it. They say, 'give me a little more!'"

In a phone interview, Publix representatives said their new method is only meant to push customers toward new products, such as their new 'Cheese of the Week' program.

"Any time that there may be a hint of change, people are passionate. And we take it as a compliment. We would never want to disappoint our customers," said Maria Brous, Director of Media & Community Relations for Publix. "If they want a sample of the meat and cheese they're ordering, all they have to do is ask for a slice and we'll gladly give them the slice."

Publix says South Florida customers have nothing to fear, they won't be testing the method here any time soon.

And no matter how you slice it, Publix adds money has nothing to do with us. The goal is just to create what they call, "a more natural exchange between deli clerks and customers."