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Rural Manitoba Pizza Maker Looks To Schools

Del’s Specialty Meats about to take another great lea


WINNIPEG – Del’s Specialty Meats is about to take another great leap forward in the pizza business.

WINNIPEG – Del’s Specialty Meats is about to take another great leap forward in the pizza business.

The southern Manitoba frozen pizza manufacturer recently signed an agreement with Challenger Marketing, a Winnipeg-based marketing company, whose specialty is helping schools with fundraising programs.

 “We had been dabbling in promoting our pizzas in schools,” said Rick Gallant, the co-owner of Del’s Specialty Meats. “Challenger can do a lot for us in this area. We have already picked up some pointers about presentation and pricing. As a result of the company’s advice, we have created a 9-inch pizza for the school market. We think the schools are going to be a good source of new business for us. We have already signed up four for the fall.”

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Del’s is a pizza manufacturer with a background that is quite unlike any other. The Gallant family’s primarily business is a 4,000-square-foot, third generation, full-service grocery store serving the town of Letellier (with a population of under 200) and surrounding area. The town is located about 65km south of Winnipeg and 25km north of the America border.
Eight years ago, Rick and his brother and partner, Bob, explored ways to diversify and purchased Del’s Specialty Meats, a 70-year-old Winnipeg-based meat processing company.
“We decided to move the business here (to Letellier) because we felt it would be easier for us to manage the business out of our grocery store. We figured we could make up for any walk-up traffic we were losing by better distribution and marketing efforts,” Rick Gallant said.
 “We put a 1,200 square foot addition onto our store to handle the processing.”
Del’s specialties were pâtés and tourtieres (French Canadian meat pies). Gallant noted that both products tend to be seasonal (although that is changing).
“We needed a product to fill in the slow periods,” he said.
Del’s had been producing a small number of 12-inch frozen pizzas in a thin crust.
“We thought we might be able to further develop the pizza business. We improved the labelling and opened some new accounts. Last year, we sold 30,000 pizzas. Pizza has now become our flagship product.”
Del’s Pizzas come in cheese, pepperoni, ham and pineapple, pepperoni and mushroom, beef, onion and mushroom, meaty delight, veggie, and deluxe choices that sell for $4.85 a piece.
Rick Gallant’s wife, Gloria, is the production manager. She works with one full time employee and several part time staff as required.
The Gallants ship their pizza, and other Del’s products, to market through a reciprocal arrangement with their grocery suppliers. The trucks that bring supplies to the store back-haul the Del’s products.
The company also has partnership arrangements with other companies, such as Old Country Sausage in Winnipeg.
“We use their meat and they distribute our pizzas,” Gallant said.
“The competition in the pizza business is fierce,” he said. “In the retail stores, we are often competing with the stores’ own in-house pizzas made in the in-store delis. We like to think though that our pizza is special.”•