Long-time Hartford Meat Processor Mucke's To Be Sold
Meats Will Be Made At Grote & Weigel Plant
By MATTHEW STURDEVANT
June 20, 2012
After 93 years as a family business, E.E. Mucke & Sons Inc. in Hartford is selling its recipes and brand to a Massachusetts company — making it the second historic Connecticut meat processor to sell to the same buyer in four months.
Hotdog vendors, grocers and other retailers who buy Mucke's famous hotdogs, kielbasa and delicatessen meats were told in recent weeks that the company, which dates back to 1919, is being sold.
The Mucke's brand and the recipes will be the same after the sale, but the meats will be made at the Grote & Weigel, Inc. facility in Bloomfield.
Grote & Weigel — founded in Rockville in 1890 — was sold in late February to Rachael's Food Corp. of Chicopee, Mass., just days before a planned liquidation sale at the manufacturing plant and warehouse because Grote & Weigel planned to go out of business.
Mucke's is now planning to sell to Rachael's, a subsidiary of J. Polep Distribution Services of Chicopee, Mass., a convenience store distributor in the Northeast that also owns food companies.
It's not clear how many people work at Mucke's facility on Main Street in Hartford's North End, or how many will keep their jobs. It's also not clear what the future will be for Mucke's property.
Rachael's has continued the Grote & Weigel line of hot dogs, sausages, hams and deli meats. It appears the Massachusetts company plans to do the same with Mucke's, according to notifications that went out to Mucke's retail buyers.
Neither Ernest Mucke, the fourth-generation co-owner of Mucke's, nor Adam Kramer, a Rachael's executive who is now president of Grote & Weigel, would talk about the pending deal.
The former owner of Grote & Weigel, Michael Greiner, told The Courant in late January that he was struggling to handle a weak economy, a sudden jump in meat prices — due in part to corn prices rising because of demand for ethanol fuel, and customers seeking lower-priced meats.
"We're still in business, but it's definitely trying times," Ernest Mucke, who co-owns Mucke's with his sister Linda Johnston, told The Courant in January.
Mucke said at the time that even the cost of hot dog casings had gone up because suppliers in New Zealand were getting demand from China. Rising meat prices squeeze local companies when they sell to large supermarkets.
"The major supermarkets' policy is that they want at least four to five week's notice before you increase your price," Greiner, the former owner of Grote & Weigel, told The Courant in January. "By the time you get your price increase in place and approved by the supermarket, it's time to put another one in. Ultimately, what happens with big companies like Stop & Shop, you just continually lose a lot of margin that way. That's one thing that's hurt us."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at