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Closing the gap between consumer perception and production reality requires courage and clarity in communications by chicken producers, Bill Lovette, CEO, Pilgrim’s, told listeners at the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit. | Photo by Gary Thornton
on July 17, 2017

Chicken producers must speak fearlessly on issues

On key issues like 'big ag,' animal care and welfare, and food labeling, chicken producers must speak with courage and clarity.

Chicken producers must speak fearlessly, and with clarity, to close the gap between consumer perceptions and reality on issues like “big ag,” animal care and welfare, and food labeling, said Bill Lovette, president and CEO, Pilgrim’s, to listeners at the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit in Asheville, North Carolina, in July 2017.

Read the full report about in the October issue of WATT PoultryUSA.

Among the consumer issues that are imperatives for chicken producers are slow-growing broilers and antimicrobial resistance. Lovette said the chicken industry is poised to win the competition for consumer dollars on productivity and health issues but faces significant challenges on these key issues.

Lovette offered six best practices for addressing consumer issues:

  1. Don’t sell your story; tell it with transparency and heart.
  2. See it through their eyes.
  3. It’s not about being right; it’s about respect of choice.
  4. Fearlessly take on the issue, but let values lead the conversation.
  5. Respond with speed and balance.
  6. Empower people to advocate and innovate.

He said poultry producers must raise the bar in their communications with consumers who are being bombarded every minute of every day with information that is often inaccurate and potentially undermines agriculture’s ability to continue to provide safe, affordable food.

Lovette said Pilgrim’s has identified priority issues that the company is approaching in a holistic manner: water, energy and climate change, animal welfare, team member health and safety, and product integrity.

He named the following four communication issues for organic production:

  1. Climate change: Lower yields in organic mean more land, natural resources and birds are required. The result is higher greenhouse gas emissions and a larger carbon footprint.
  2. Biosecurity: Organic management can result in increased exposure to predators and diseases like avian influenza.
  3. Cost and scale: Organic agriculture can be more profitable than conventional agriculture, but high labor and input costs can offset gains.
  4. Productivity: There is a significant yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture, and a lack of feed availability is a challenge.

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