Supermarket Perimeter - June 2020 - 37

AT THE HEIGHT OF THE CORONAVIRUS, demand for chicken,
particularly at retail, was very strong. For example, retail sales were up
about 35% on average over the last three months compared to the same
timeframe last year.
"It seems that anything labeled 'chicken' is selling well at the grocery
store," said Tom Super, senior vice president of communications for the
National Chicken Council, Washington, D.C. "Your typical mainstays like
boneless/skinless breasts and tenders, but we're also seeing more wings
and whole birds being offered in the meat case."
Strong retail sales, however, don't make up for the loss of foodservice
demand, which is typically about 50% of the industry's portfolio.
"Hopefully in the next three months we will see a gradual reopening
of the foodservice industry beyond just take-out," Super said.
Oakwood, Ga.-based Wayne Farms, like many producers, reported
wide swings in demand during the coronavirus outbreak. At one point,
restaurant and other foodservice demand was down 40%, said Megan
Ernst, the company's senior brand manager.
At the same time, however, grocery store sales spiked.
By May, foodservice was starting to come back, and Wayne Farms
was looking forward to smoother sailing ahead.
"Continued demand for poultry at wholesale and retail will drive
business for the few months at least, probably until restaurant and
foodservice demand return to historic levels," Ernst said.
During the outbreak, Wayne Farms has seen stronger demand for
bigger retail chicken packs.
"With consumers cooking and eating more at home and making
fewer grocery shopping trips, consumers are seeking larger package
sizes of chicken," she said. "Larger package sizes provide more volume
for increased at-home meals and limits grocery trips, since consumers
have enough to freeze for later or to carry them through until they
shop again."

Winging it
In addition to new burger offerings, the Los
Angeles-based Meat District brand also includes
a line of chicken wings featuring antibiotic-free
marinated chicken. Varieties include Sweet & Sassy,
Lemon Herb, Beer Brined and Zesty Ranch.
Meat District premium products will be sold at
supermarkets nationwide, including Albertson's,
Kroger, Ralph's, Pavilions, Vons, Stater Brothers,
Winn Dixie, Food Lion and Hy-Vee.
"They're not called party wings for nothing," according
to the Meat District. "Super tender and bursting
with flavor, these all white meat chicken wings are
party starters. They're meaty, they're juicy, they're
fantastic finger food for any feasting occasion."

Experimentation, convenience trending
Also trending is consumers' willingness to try new brands. As product
availability varies and consumers are seeing more empty shelves than
they're used to, Wayne Farms is seeing a willingness to try new chicken
brands and products.
Convenience is also on the rise. With all of the social distancing and
at-home cooking, Wayne Farms is seeing more interest in fully cooked,
easy-to-prep, better-for-you chicken products to help take some of
the heavy lifting off the at-home cook - while still providing a healthy
protein option to feed the whole family.
Ernst characterizes Wayne Farms as a "market-driven company." In
practice, that means offering choice and products that meet a variety
of needs.

WAYNE FARMS, MEAT DISTRICT

At the end of 2017, the company introduced its Naked Truth Premium
Chicken for retailers and customers who wanted verified proof of
animal care practices. Naked Truth is Global Animal Partnership (GAP)
Step 2 rated for animal care and carries many attractive attributes for
time-constrained consumers who are also focused on health and
wellness.
Those include vegetable and grain-based diet (no animal by
products), all-natural, no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and
antibiotics are never, ever used throughout the process.
"We introduced a line of unique, fully-cooked, easy-to-finish
products, for the frozen meat case, and continue to receive positive
feedback on the offerings," Ernst said.
Wayne Farms also has plans to launch new, chef-inspired offerings
that focus on the home cook later in 2020. Watch for news on these
new products, coming this fall.
Also new at Wayne Farms, earlier this year the company launched an
enhanced, customer-friendly website in January at IPPE in Atlanta.

supermarketperimeter.com

JUNE 2020 - 37


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