How does the turkey industry score in product development and marketing versus the pork and beef industries? Turkey performs well, say managers with experience in all three industries, but there’s room for improvement.

“How would you grade the turkey industry in new product development over the last five years versus the other meat proteins?” managers were asked at the National Turkey Federation convention.

Butterball CEO Rod Brenneman, who was formerly CEO of Seaboard Corporation, a major hog producer-pork processor, said the turkey industry has done a great job in product innovation, but can do a better job of telling consumers about those products.

“I think the turkey products are way better than what have been developed in the pork industry, but we can do a better job of telling consumers about those products,” he said. “We have the right communication tools available but could do a better job in delivering the messaging. It gets back to how to deliver our messaging about the health aspects and the cost competitiveness of turkey products.”

Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill Value Added Meats, said the turkey industry’s product development has been technically superior but sometimes falls short in marketing.

“Compared to the beef products introduced at Cargill, we have done much more in adding value in turkey products and coming out with innovative products. But we have had more failures than we should have had. I think we could have done a better job in supporting the products and understanding what we were doing when products were launched. Did we really understand the consumer and how it was going to work? How they want it packaged?