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Everyone knows turkey is a delicious and nutritious substitute for ground beef, right? So why isn’t the turkey burger on more fast food menus?
At the National Turkey Federation’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, Jerome Lyman, director of Farm Foundation and formerly an executive with McDonald's Corp., was asked why the turkey burger isn’t found at the golden arches.
The reasoning, he said, is the same as why turkey struggles to get onto plates outside of North America: a lack of a compelling argument filled with facts and passion. Has the turkey industry, he asked, made the argument sufficiently that it should be exporting to China or be included on the Extra Value Menu? Just because it’s desirable for the turkey industry, he said, doesn’t move the needle.
Lyman pointed to Apple Inc. and Starbucks Corp.’s, two wildly successful American companies and beloved international brands, success at convincing consumers to pay far more for something than it's arguably worth. The $800 smartphone and $5 cup of coffee are ubiquitous because the companies argued – with facts and passion – they make a higher quality product and offer a better consumer experience than their predecessors and contemporary competitors.
While the turkey industry is not a monolithic corporate entity, it would be wise to copy this playbook. Lyman said the fact base is already there: The product is sustainable, it's nutritious, it's tasty and it melds well with other flavors. Turkey is a feel good product. The key ingredient missing in making a compelling argument, in his mind, is the passion.
“So it seems to me that if you take all those facts and you throw a lot of passion in it, and it’s got to be the passion of all the people in this room, I think there’s a future in that,” Lyman told the audience of turkey industry insiders and allies. “But I believe we’ve got to step up the passion.”