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    Nuggets of Wisdom: Hot Chicken Trends

    National Chicken Council's (NCC) William Roenigk provides a rundown of key trends expected to unfold in the coming year.

    Progressive Grocer recently caught up with William Roenigk, SVP and chief economist for the Washington, D.C.-based National Chicken Council (NCC), to provide a rundown of key trends retailers can expect to unfold in the coming year.

    PG: Please share some general insights about the latest trends with the chicken category at retail.
     
    ROENIGK: Some of the latest trends in new chicken products are continuation of trends previously experienced and are being further developed with line extensions and concept variations. 

    Perhaps one of the strongest trends is to more fully connect with food shoppers in terms of conveying the message that the chicken in a particular package is natural, fresh and locally-sourced -- in essence raising the informational and comfort level with respect to knowing-where-your-food-comes-from.

    In short, companies are trying to provide information on the package label and/or product website so the consumer can more fully relate to the product. At the same time, the increased and more transparent connection is a good and valid approach to enhance consumer confidence in the food safety of a chicken product or brand. Consumers, especially in difficult economic times, want to see more value and a good balance between built-in convenience and health/wellness.

    PG: Please discuss the specific fresh chicken products that you believe are making the greatest inroads with consumers?

    ROENIGK: New on-trend chicken products that are gaining traction are not so much about a new version of a mainstream product, but rather positioning the brand and information on the product packages so the consumers can more readily relate to the source and uniqueness of the chicken product -- either by the brief message on the package and/or by checking-out the website noted on the package.

    PG: What is NCC doing to further elevate chicken as a top consumer choice?

    ROENIGK: Unlike others, the National Chicken Council (NCC) does not have a mandatory check-off program that generates a large source of funding for the development and marketing of new products.  Thus, NCC’s very modest consumer education budget focuses on getting information about chicken, new products and traditional “mainstayers,” to food and lifestyle editors and other “food influentials.”

    PG: What advice would you give retailers who are looking to elevate their fresh chicken consumer outreach?

    ROENIGK: Chicken’s nutrition profile of low fat, low calories, high in quality protein makes it a very strong and good fit for consumers seeking to achieve or maintain a proper body weight. 

    When consumers were asked in June 2010 why they purchase chicken compared to other meat and poultry, “more healthful” was listed as the third top reason.  More than 86 percent of the 1,000+ survey respondents indicated they “agree strongly” or “agree somewhat” with “more healthful” as a reason to buy chicken. The No. 1 reason was, “versatile, can be cooked many ways,” among 93 percent, followed second by “convenient, easy to prepare,” among 89 percent.

    PG: What are the top trends that bode most promising for both food retailers and chicken suppliers?

    ROENIGK: The “next big thing” is having chicken provide consumers with a new, higher level of health and wellness. That is, chicken is not just healthy, but actually good for you, including brands offering naturally-occurring Omega-3 fatty acids, which will come from the feed ingredients that contain oils [and] enhanced levels of components that produce Omega-3 fatty acids in chicken.

    Granny’s Poultry in Canada is already advertising this benefit. Some brands of table eggs have been promoting Omega-3 benefits for a number of years. This concept is now being considered as a possibility for chicken in the United States.

     

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