Seeing red

by Keith Nunes
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AUSTIN, Minn. — New products introduced by the Hormel Food Corp.’s Jennie-O Turkey Store business unit highlight the brand’s intent — to try to take share away from red meat processors. New product introductions range from turkey breast steaks, flavored turkey burgers, chub sausages made with ground turkey and the company’s latest iteration of turkey bacon.

Announced June 26, the Jennie-O Turkey Breast Steaks are packaged ready-to-cook, and available pre-seasoned with a garlic and red pepper spice blend. The new products are available nationwide in 16-oz and 24-oz portions, and have a suggested retail price of $7.99.

Glenn Leitch, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc., said the company is excited about the steak roll-out, but he added that developing the new product was a challenge.

“Breast meat is not flat, but we’ve done some work and we can do that,” he said.

Leitch was speaking to financial analysts on June 26 during Hormel’s 2013 investor day, and noted that the new product is designed to ensure Hormel Foods has a breast-meat product available at retail. But he added that merchandising will also be important.

“How do we get closer to beef?” he said. “How do we make that comparison a little bit easier for the consumer to be able to see and understand [the benefits of turkey] both from pricing and from a health and wellness perspective?”

Another way Jennie-O is getting closer to beef is with the introduction of a turkey-burger patty featuring jalapeño pepper seasoning and Monterey jack cheese. The all-white meat patties are sold in packages of six at a suggested retail price of $9.99.

The chub sausage category long has been a category dominated by red meat.

“You may not think chubs are that sexy, if you will, but to us, they are,” Leitch said. “With the shelf-life we’ve been able to achieve on it, we think that we can compete very well with the red-meat sausages that are in that sector and so far, it’s done very well. We have over 40 customers purchasing it regularly.”

Leitch added that Hormel wants to also get into the fresh ground chub sausage category, as well.

“I mentioned the merchandising against beef and this is really important to us, and so we are working hard to try and arrange this; have the retailers work with us,” he said.

The Jennie-O Turkey Store brand has strong positions in the fresh, frozen and processed portions of the business, but its strength is tray-pack, where it has a 36 percent market share and is the category leader. In discussing the company’s extension into the chub sausage category, Leitch said he did not think it would impact Jennie-O’s tray-pack business.

“What we really think we will do is we will convert that beef-chub user into a turkey-chub user, and then, maybe one day, into a tray-pack user,” he said. “Our research has shown us that there’s opportunity for that.”

Jennie-O also has done a re-fresh on its turkey bacon line with a new product formula and new packaging.
“We’ve has some really good success with it,” Leitch said. “The ACV is up significantly, the dollar volume up significantly; so we are very pleased with it.”
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