4 emerging consumer opportunities for the poultry industry

Modern consumers have big expectations about the food they buy. Priorities are shifting and poultry companies need to adapt to keep up.

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kadmy | bigstockphoto
kadmy | bigstockphoto

Modern consumers have big expectations about the food they buy. Priorities are shifting and poultry companies need to adapt to keep up.

“Since World War 2, animal agriculture in the U.S. has really focused on increasing productivity, efficiency and throughput. That’s a great thing because a lot of consumers benefit from having affordable, high quality meat and poultry. But now, people are beginning to ask the question about whether or not other attributes should also receive equal focus. Shouldn’t we apply the same level of energy and focus on things like sustainability, nutrition, animal welfare and worker treatment?” explained Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI).

“The opportunity exists for the poultry industry to say ‘we can figure this out. We can figure out a solution where we address these priorities and maintain efficiency.”

Emerging priorities

A new report from CFI identified four emerging innovation opportunities for the animal protein space. They are:

  1. Fresh and high-quality proteins.
  2. Finding new ways to stretch meat purchases
  3. Ethically raised proteins that are still affordable and easy to access and prepare.
  4. Plant-based proteins that are perceived as better for the environment and health

“Part of the appeal that you’re seeing in plant-based protein alternatives is that desire for protein that does a better job meeting some of these other priorities. Now, consumers are conflicted about this because it doesn’t have the same taste or texture and they’re looking at the complexities of ingredients out of concern for their health. But they’re looking at the move towards plant-based proteins as an important signal about these emerging priorities,” Arnot said.

Consumers embrace new technologies

Modern consumers are more likely to embrace new technologies than ever.

“There’s a new willingness to embrace technology, but it has to be viewed through the lens of ‘how does the technology benefit consumers and/or society,’” said Arnot.

For example, the poultry industry is increasingly interested in finding ways to use automation in processing facilities.

“One of the things you could say is that robotics enhances worker safety and well-being in the plants. Clearly, there are economic and productivity benefits, but it also means you are able to create space for workers to be apart and you can remove workers from jobs that are sometimes associated with higher rates of injury. It all depends on what’s the lens through which you’re looking at the issue and how you share that information with consumers,” Arnot said.

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