Facing chicken supply chain challenges, opportunities

Consumers have more choices for when, where and how they buy chicken than ever before.

Grilled Chicken Breast On Plate
(legaa | BigStockPhoto.com)

The traditional chicken supply chain channels — food service and retail — aren’t as distinct as they used to be. 

Consumers are purchasing prepared, ready-to-eat meals from grocery stores and convenience stores and getting them delivered to their homes from restaurants. Ready-to-cook chicken products can be ordered for home delivery from the corner grocer or from an e-tailer without brick and mortar stores. Consumers are even skipping grocery stores altogether and signing up for monthly subscription boxes of meat products delivered right to their front door. 

In other words, consumers have more choices for when, where and how they buy chicken than ever before. 

To gain insight into these choices and channels, join a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities for companies who connect processors with consumers at the 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit (CMS), July 21-23, in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Panelists include John Atkinson, director of purchasing and forecasting, PFSbrands; Michael Billings, head of meat procurement, ButcherBox; Tim Scheiderer, director, protein supply, Buffalo Wild Wings (Inspire Brands); and Frank Thurlow, formerly with Southeastern Grocers.

Connecting processors with consumers

Attendees of the panel will gain a better understanding of how these companies operate and leave with new ideas of how to effectively engage and connect processors with consumers. Panelists will offer insight into vendor relationships, e-commerce, streamlining with supplier partners and creating value for customers.

Atkinson and his team specialize in vendor relationships, inventory management, purchasing, financial planning, financial analysis and forecasting for PFSbrands, a food service distributor specializing in serving convenience stores. PFSbrands is the parent company of Champs Chicken, Cooper’s Express and BluTaco. 

PFSbrands continues to evolve as a service company and is in constant communication with its store owners, Atkinson said, working with what they want, how to better serve them and how to make their jobs easier — critical for success. “Communication is key. Everyone in business wants to succeed, grow and be profitable. Everyone is working towards the same mission, so open communication is key to building strong relationships,” he said.

Atkinson will share more insight into continued collaboration and streamlining with supplier partners during the panel.

Billings is part of the senior management team of ButcherBox, supplying experience in all aspects of procurement, spec development, packaging, cutting inventory control, systems building and distribution. ButcherBox connects families with the foods they want to eat by establishing a friendly neighborhood butcher, always open, online. The company delivers 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken and heritage breed pork directly to consumers’ doors.

"We connect with our members in a variety of ways, but our goal is to have options that fit into each of their lives," Billings explains. "Whether its being the best place to buy high-quality meat, a place for inspiration or simply a place to learn — we're serving up the content and knowledge to make shopping at ButcherBox a full experience for whatever our members need."

This is not without its challenge, though. "One of the biggest challenges we've seen supply chain companies face is the realization and understanding that one size doesn't fit all," Billings said. "The next generation of consumers has different demands and values than previous generations. Being able to meet those demands and align with the values they care about is important, particularly those values around animal welfare and antibiotics."

Scheiderer is responsible for Buffalo Wild Wings’ strategic oversight and day-to-day management of the restaurant chain's protein procurement operations. Parent company Inspire Brands is a multi-brand restaurant company with a portfolio including Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby's, SONIC Drive-In and Rusty Taco. Scheiderer has almost 30 years of direct poultry experience in a variety of operations, business development and quality assurance roles, including director of business development for national accounts at Tyson Foods.

One of the challenges Inspire Brands faces, according to Scheiderer, is to ensure that all the teams from the different brands understand business priorities and work together. "A lot of people are new to the brands and new to the roles. Making sure that we’re communicating is key to our success," he said.

Thurlow, recently retired from Southeastern Grocers (SEG), has worked in the retail grocery business since 1976 and has decades of retail experience. His responsibilities at SEG included program development, procurement, supplier selection and management, budgeting and P&L achievement for the fresh and frozen beef and poultry categories, supporting up to 700 retail stores operating under four banners.

Thurlow's experience includes insight into connecting with Hispanic customers, a segment of the U.S. population projected to nearly double in the next 40 years. SEG has a 17-store chain in Florida that caters to Hispanic shoppers.

“Information and the opportunity to learn about your customer is readily available and can be used to make your brand more relevant to them,” Thurlow said. He will share data with the panel about connecting with the Hispanic market, whose projected buying power in 2060 will exceed $3.5 trillion.

Attend 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit

The 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit will be held at Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina, July 21-23. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover how channels, choices and challengers influence consumers’ chicken purchasing behavior.

For more information and to attend, visit: www.wattglobalmedia.com/chickenmarketingsummit

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