Ariane Daguin, founder of D’Artagnan tells Grocery Headquarters how retailers can continue to meet the refining palates of consumers.
Ariane Daguin: People are more thoughtful about their food purchases, where they are sourced, and what they are putting in their bodies. Over the years, there have been numerous studies which substantiate the health benefits of organic and all natural foods. But not only are there health benefits, there are taste benefits, too. Since founding D’Artagnan in 1985, we have been dedicated to natural, sustainable and humane production, rooted in our philosophy that these three criteria yield the best tasting meats. Consumers are becoming more educated about the best products, and they seeking them on restaurant menus and shelves at their grocery stores.
There still remains a lot of debate on what qualifies for a product to be considered “organic” or “natural.” As a purveyor of natural and artisanal meats, how do you ensure that your products meet these requirements?
D’Artagnan believes in only producing the best and natural products. Only animals that have been raised humanely, without the use of growth hormones or subtherapeutic anitbiotics, along with employing open-foraging conditions to bolster a varied diet, can produce meats and products that are superior in taste.
What is the biggest obstacle facing the organic meat category at the moment?
Economic conditions still remain a factor as chefs need to vary their menus to attract diners on a budget. Also, raising organic and natural breeds and seeing them through to market, is no small feat for amateur farmers and ranchers looking to get into the business. But the demand for quality meat is still high.
How does D’Artagnan continue to grow its business in the recent economic climate?
Our business actually continued to grow over the recent years by staying true to our quality standards. Through innovation, we are able to provide chefs and retailers with artisanal products such duck breast, organic chicken and buffalo steaks, as well as a variety of preservative-free meats for charcuterie, such as chorizo, Andouille, Serrano ham, pates and smoked poultry. Retailers know that they need to establish a strong brand quality too, and one way to do this is by providing high quality foods by companies consumers can trust.
How does D’Artagnan look to compete against other specialty meat purveyors or larger companies offering organic and natural products on retail shelves?
We’ve been working with hundreds of farmers, restaurants and retailers for nearly 30 years and have contributed significantly to the gourmet food movement. With the increasing celebration of gastronomy and renowned chefs, consumers are seeking the products they have tasted at their restaurants or learned about on television programs or online. But, we influence this process at an even earlier stage by working hand in hand with the farmers to create the best tasting meats. Our mission is to produce quality, not quantity. We know what products are resonating with chefs and their patrons across the country, and how these products will, in turn, be sought on the grocery shelves. We have these unique insights, which distinguish us in the marketplace.
What should retailers look forward to from D’Artagnan in the coming year?
We will continue to expand our portfolio of retail products and across more markets. We will also be introducing new product lines. We recently launched the first duck breed of its kind in the U.S., the Rohan duck, which we began servicing to restaurants and are now selling to retailers. And of course, throughout this year, we will be doing what we love most: creating great tasting food!
How can retailers help educate consumers about your product?
When exposing customers to artisanal products developed with quality and taste in mind, tried-and-true sampling is the primary pathway to purchase. Also, the artisanal trend is the new gourmet. Customers are more interested in products that have been raised or grown locally but truly discerning consumers will want to taste it to believe it.