Chicken Marketing Seminar report: Top food trends provide opportunities

by Joel Crews
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LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – At the opening day of the National Chicken Council’s Chicken Marketing Seminar, The Food Channel’s Kay Compton Logsdon discussed some of the top food trends and how they present opportunities for the poultry industry marketing officials in attendance. The Food Channel’s vice president and editor-in-chief made a point to stress the importance of utilizing social media in this segment of the food industry.

Social networking using Facebook and Twitter, she said, is essential to staying informed about the perception of food products and the marketing officials in attendance would be well served to overcome any reluctance to using them.

“People are talking about your food,” she said, referencing the thousands of active food bloggers and online forums where consumers and people working in the food industry interact on a regular basis. “The genie is out of the bottle,” she said, and marketers have a lot to gain by having a presence on social networking sites.

Compton-Logsdon went on to discuss how The Food Channel’s Top Food Trends for the year have played out. Top foods of the decade identified by The Food Channel in late 2010 included sushi, bacon, cupcakes, sliders, gourmet burgers, superfruits and olive oils. One of the foodservice trends identified was upscaling of bar food, which she said is an opportunity for the poultry industry. Likewise, utilizing chicken in non-traditional applications and recipes also shows promise for poultry marketers. She mentioned some experimentation with chicken being used in cupcakes and red velvet chicken (chicken pieces coated and deep fried) as examples of outside-of-the-box uses of chicken by food developers.

Other trends specific to chicken at foodservice include chicken “getting bigger,” said Compton-Logsdon. KFC rolling out a bigger grilled chicken sandwich and casual-dining chain Checkers’ introduction of its quarter-pounder chicken sandwich were two examples she gave. Formulating chicken with higher flavor profiles was another trend she mentioned. Calling the trend “spicy gets hotter,” chains such as Red Robin, Chick-fil-A and Jack in the Box have experimented and recently added spicy chicken items to their menus. Pairing chicken with waffles as a breakfast item, a new comfort-food type of offering by IHOP, is still another area of opportunity for chicken marketers.

Product developers should also continue pursuing new forms of chicken, she added, as well as achieving acceptance of dark meat by US consumers. “What will be the next chicken on a stick?”, she said.
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