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Talking Shop with... Andy Urban

Andy Urban, senior vice president of sales for Perdue Foods, says chicken remains consumers’ favorite protein.



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Is chicken still leading the charge in the meat department?

Andy Urban: Chicken is always going to be popular. According to research from Rabobank, meat consumption by consumers had its biggest jump in 2015, and consumption is expected to continue to increase to historic highs by 2018. Chicken has the biggest share of that consumption. 

Of course, price remains a key driver behind consumer behavior. If prices of beef and pork remain competitive, we will see consumers buying a wider range of proteins. Reasonable feed costs are benefitting everyone, and a rising tide lifts all boats. But I do not see chicken losing its place as America’s favorite protein.

For the growing number of consumers who want the added assurance of elevated attributes, all-vegetarian-fed, no-antibiotics-ever and organic options are much more readily available with chicken than in the other proteins. Here, too, chicken has a competitive price advantage.

What can retailers do to enhance the selection and maximize sales and profits?

Retailers can provide consumers with choices—choices that fit their needs, lifestyles and values. That includes capitalizing on the trends toward “simpler” food with clean labels and no-antibiotics-ever, and offering that across a wide variety of products. Consumers should not have to choose between the attributes they want for their families and the convenience they need in their busy lives. Organic continues to grow in the mainstream. The natural and organic shopper is now the mainstream shopper. Consumers may not buy everything in the natural category, but they are buying those items more and more—and they expect to have that choice.

Are there other things retailers can do to help grow sales?

Consumers want to know more about their food. That is not limited to how it was raised, produced or where it came from—though that can be very important. Consumers want shareable experiences; they want food to become part of the story of their day. Retailers are doing some very creative things to make shopping more of an experience. Things like food and wine pairings, information and ideas, demonstrations—anything that engages the consumer. 

What is Perdue Foods doing in regard to marketing and merchandising?

We are continuing to promote the “Perdue Way” by adding our “Commitments to Animal Care” to the already strong storyline of our leadership in “No Antibiotics Ever.” It is continuing the tradition of responsibility to the consumer that started with Frank Perdue, but taking it beyond the package and expanding it to how we raise the food. It is giving consumers the transparency and assurances they want and making them feel good about the food they are feeding their families, while continuing to offer quality, flavor, convenience and peace of mind. 

What we are doing in animal care—things like “The Five Freedoms,” giving chickens what they want so they are healthier and happier, getting our farmers more involved and engaging a wide range of stakeholders—will continue. It is groundbreaking, and we are bringing consumers along with us on our journey. 

The “Perdue Way” is our brand story and it is a very powerful story we are sharing with consumers.

Beyond the PERDUE brand, we are continuing to provide consumers with choice and transparency across a growing roster of no-antibiotics-ever chicken, turkey and pork, including organic and Non-GMO Project Verification. 

“No Antibiotics Ever” remains a big part of our story. We are in the final steps of converting all of our branded products to “No Antibiotics Ever,” which will be another first for a major poultry company. There are a lot of confusing claims out there about antibiotic use, but only one that gives consumers complete assurance that the product they are buying is from an animal that never, ever received any kind of antibiotic. 

What does the future looks like?

Exciting. Consumers are becoming more and more engaged in food and grocery shopping. They want more information, more choices such as no-antibiotics-ever and organic, more flavors, more transparency about how food is raised and produced and more accountability for animal welfare and stewardship. The retailers that are winning in meat are meeting those demands and reigniting the consumer grocery shopping experience.     

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