NCC Seminar report: Retail and Foodservice roundup

by Joel Crews
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LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A July 19 roundtable discussion among officials from the retail and foodservice segments marked the end of the presentations at this year’s Chicken Marketing Seminar, hosted by the National Chicken Council. One representative from the retail segment was Jim Beauvais, vice president of meat and seafood with Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. Beauvais highlighted the company’s growth among its five store formats, including its high-end Mariano’s Fresh Market chain, which has a new location in Chicago. Chicken has been an integral part of the growth for Roundy’s, as the company operates a commissary in Kenosha, Wisc., where it processes meat and poultry and many other perishable products for its stores, many of which carry the store’s growing private-label items.

Like most retailers, Roundy’s is facing challenges including meeting the demands of ad shoppers, addressing health issues among consumers, maintaining top food-safety standards and the rising cost of supplies. He said an ongoing theme in the company’s product mix is “making it easier” for shoppers. Using technology such as QC codes on the package of meat products is one manner of achieving this. Using their iPhones, consumers can scan the labels and be directed to recipe ideas provided by ingredient supplier, Lawry’s. This type of technology-based cross-promoting shows promise for the future for Roundy’s, he said.

One of the representatives from the foodservice segment was Mike Ledford, senior director of purchasing with Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, which is the supply-chain organization for Yum! Brands Inc.’s five national restaurant systems (including A&W, KFC, Long John Silver’s Pizza Hut and Taco Bell). To supply its brands, UFPC spends $4.7 billion on food each year, with the top three chains being Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC. When it comes to poultry, the area of interest for most of the attendees, Ledford said UFPC buys 1 billion pounds each year, at a cost of approximately $1 billion. Of that, $800 million is spent to supply its KFC restaurants.

Not unlike retailers, Ledford said the commodity market volatility and general economic downturn poses challenges for the foodservice segment. Meanwhile, he told the marketing representatives of the chicken industry, as the poultry industry trends toward an ever-growing bird, maintaining a consistent supply and size of bird for KFC’s chicken on the bone offerings is a priority for the future. He also said the company is looking to work with more poultry-only distributors, whose chicken expertise and ability to make up to three deliveries per week is valued. As KFC product developers consider what might be the next menu sensation to top its Double Down Sandwich, the goal is to maintain its core customer base that share the 50-and-over demographic with annual incomes of less than $50,000. The company’s introduction of Kentucky Grilled Chicken in 2009, said Ledford, has been very successful, adding that the new offering has grown to represent 10 percent of sales across the KFC system.
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