A review of Meat Costings Professional. A program deisgned specifically for retail butchers to aid with the pricing of their meat products after butchering.
This review is related to a program called Meat Costings Professional, designed for traditional butchers to help in pricing their meat products after butchering.
Why a butcher has special pricing needs.
Traditional butchers buy their meat to butcher usually from a wholesaler and then butcher the carcase to obtain the different cuts of meat. The meat the butcher buys from the wholesaler is commonly called a primal although in the program they are called carcases. Primals or carcases are bought at an overall price per pound or kilo but when butchered the cuts obtained from the carcase are sold at differing prices.
For example, a butcher would buy a beef hind quarter which is half the back end of a slaughtered cow. From this he will then butcher the carcase to obtain several different saleable cuts, such as rump steaks, fillet steaks, frying steaks and mince. However, certain cuts sell for a higher price than other products. Fillet steak sells at a higher price than rump steak for instance.
So a butcher simply cannot purchase a primal add a required profit margin and resell all the cuts butchered from the primal at the same price. Meat Costings Professional attempts to help to solve this problem.
Installation of the software is easy by simply following the instructions in the set up program. There is no requirement to register the program. The only options asked for is whether or not you want to add a desktop short cut. Installation took less than a minute on my computer. The program is advertised as being able to work with any windows operating system, the only requirement being a minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768. Certainly I had no problems in installing the program on my lap top computer running Windows 7.
The user interface.
After running the program there is only one screen from which all actions are performed. The left side of the screen contains seven columns with the following headings.
A hold check box
Weight x Sell
The right side of the screen shows three boxes. The first box contains information about the carcase (primal).
The Carcase Name
The Carcase Weight
The Carcase Cost per Pound or Kilo
The Total Carcase Cost
The second box contains information on the profit which is being made if all the cuts from the carcase are sold at the selling prices entered.
The profit %
The profit in cash
It also contains another box with a button titled Force Profit To which is the main feature behind the program and it's use is explained later in this review.
The third box is like a control area consisting of buttons to operate the features of the program. The buttons are labelled;
The screen input boxes on the screen have two colours which are either black or blue set against a green background. The user only enters information into the black boxes as the blue boxes are calculated by the program. There is no option to change the display colours to your own preference.
All over the screen are small question marks beside each column and option which when pressed gives help about the particular column or feature button. Initially they tend to make the screen look scrappy but can be switched off once you know how to use the program by pressing the 'Hide Helps' button.
Entering the meat costing information.
The instructions say that the first thing to enter is the carcase details. This means entering the carcase name, the carcase weight and the carcase cost per unit. There is no specific difference between entering the weight in lb's or kilo's as if you use lb's you have to enter the data in decimal format. So for example, if the weight is 52 Lbs 12 oz the data entered is 52.75. Presumably this is why the programmers used the term 'per unit' rather than 'per pound' or 'per kilo'.
The next stage of the operation is to enter on the left side of the screen the butchered cuts the butcher wants from the carcase. Up to twenty cuts can be entered. After this the expected weight of the various cuts are then entered followed lastly by the current selling prices of the cuts.
One small annoyance is that unlike a spreadsheet the calculations are not performed after each entry as you have to press the [ENTER] key or press the 'Calculate' button to update the display. This can initially give the impression that the program is not working correctly.
The calculations performed.
Once this information has been entered and you do press [ENTER] or the 'Calculate' button the program then updates the calculated information in the blue boxes. These are;
The yield % of each cut as a proportion of the overall weight of the carcase. For example if the overall weight of the carcase is 52 kilo's and the amount of Topside butchered from the carcase is 6.32 kilo's then the result is a yield percentage of 12.15%
The sixth column shows the amount of money that a particular cut would total if all the weight of the cut is sold at the previously entered selling price.
The seventh column shows the calculated cost of each cut, in other words the price at which the profit margin on that cut would be zero.
On the right of the screen the total cost of the carcase is calculated. This is simply the carcase weight multiplied by the carcase cost per weight unit.
Using this information the program then can calculate the profit percentage being made if all the cuts from the carcase were sold at the retail prices. As well as being displayed as a percentage this is also displayed as a cash figure.
Experimenting with the prices.
After entering and saving the entered data, and an unlimited number of costings can be saved, the butcher can now easily find out the effect on the profit margin should the cost of the wholesale meat rise or falls and he continues to sell the individual cuts at the same price. Obviously a butchers needs to obtain a certain profit to stay viable so if the cost of wholesale meat rises then the selling prices have to rise also. This is where the 'Force Profit to' button is used. As an example lets say the wholesale price rises 10% which reduces the butchers profit from 33% to 28%. By entering a Force Profit figure of 33% the program will calculate the new selling price of each cut to obtain that profit. This is also where the check boxes come into play.
Beside each cut selling price is a hold price check box. It may be that the butcher does not want to increase the price of a particular cut so by checking the box next to that cut that price is held and the prices of the remaining cuts are adjusted up to obtain the required profit.
If the wholesale price does not rise but the butcher wants to place a particular cut on special offer then he can see the effect the special offer will have on the profit. If necessary he can then hold that price, request the required profit margin and adjust the other cut prices up to offset the reduction in profit from the special offer.
This operation can be repeated many times over but by playing with the prices the costing may get messy or not useful. Therefore the [REVERT] button can be pressed to take the costing back to it's original state, providing the costing has not been saved in the meantime.
Meat Costing Data Printouts
A hard copy of the following can be printed but the printouts are only really useful for internal use although there is an option to include a logo graphic on each printout. These are the print options.
Printing a blank block test form
Print the current costing data as it appears on the screen
Print all the costings you have saved.
Print a retail price list
Print a cost price list
Print a blank stock check form
Print the current costing data stock check information
Print all costing data stock check form.
Stock Checking Option.
The program can help with stock taking information but really this is not particularly useful which is probably why there is an option to show the stock checking columns or not. Because different carcases can produce the same cuts then it would be impossible to know which cuts left in the shop came from which carcase. This is why this feature is less likely to be used but none the less some butchers may find it useful.
Comparison with similar products.
It does appear that this is the only program on the market which is specifically designed for the purposes described above although there are companies offering a spreadsheet template which can perform similar tasks but you do need a knowledge Excel to use them. Also from what I have read none offer the option to hold certain cut prices which can be quite an important feature.
The program is certainly easy to use and understand if you are a butcher and would be a useful tool for a butcher to have. Priced at forty nine pounds it is not too expensive to buy and would take a lot of guesswork out of the pricing of retail meats. The ability not to change the screen colours is not too much of a problem but it would have been nice to see an automatic update of the screen after each entry rather than having to press the [ENTER] key or press the 'Calculate button'. The stock take features have limited use and probably could have been left out of the program. In their advertising the company says that the program can be used in any country, to price any type of meat in any currency but I suspect that butchers in the United States for example would find the English terminology slightly confusing but if they can overcome this then there is no reason why it could not be used there.