A Call for Innovation + More Insights from the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with experts and leaders across the chicken supply chain at the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit, which explored issues and trends in food marketing, chicken consumption patterns and purchasing behaviors. The theme of this year’s well-attended event – ‘Charting Post-Pandemic Success’ – was evident in the insightful takeaways offered by the event’s speakers:

  1. Recovery is in progress.
  2. Labor continues to challenge the supply chain.
  3. Innovation is the best path forward to meet changing consumer needs.

Recovery is in progress.

The last eighteen months have brought disruption beyond imagination to chicken producers, processors, foodservice companies and the associations and organizations who partner throughout the chicken supply chain. Fortunately, the sentiment coming out of the Summit is that recovery is well underway with increases in foodservice demand. Whether driven by value, nutrition, or taste, chicken consumption has retained its leading position as a preferred protein, and the pandemic hasn’t changed that. According to USDA, per capita chicken consumption increased from 96.5 pounds in 2019 to 97.6 pounds in 2020.  

Labor continues to challenge the supply chain.

The recovery period is not without its challenges. With constant chaos across processing, freight and packaging, businesses continue to be challenged with finding labor to keep operations running at full capacity to support the increasing demand for chicken.

Innovation is the best path forward to meet changing consumer demands.

Consumers are always on the lookout for solutions that make their lives easier, and chicken offers many value-added benefits over alternate proteins. Keynote speaker, Kevin Ryan of Malachite Strategy and Research said it best:

“By asking ourselves what jobs consumers need done versus what chicken can do, we change our vantage point. We must stop thinking we are selling chicken to consumers because that limits our ability to see new opportunities. Instead, we are selling solutions. It’s this mindset that will help us see beyond the current confines of what chicken does today and help us innovate for what chicken might do tomorrow.”

With 20-25% of the workforce expected to continue working from home beyond 2021, there will be an increase of 30 million in-home meal occasions that were once fulfilled by dining out. This presents a unique opportunity for innovation– from quick mid-day meal options to easy air-fryer-compatible meals, and on-the-go snacks for travel to premium cuts for gourmet-at-home cooking. Companies selling chicken will find success when they offer innovative solutions that meet consumers’ shifting needs.

Innovation requires out-of-the-box thinking. Whether in the chicken industry – or another sector of food or agriculture – being innovative often means leaving your comfort zone and expanding your network. If you’re looking for connections across the food value chain that can help drive innovation for your organization, we welcome a conversation.  Our team of search professionals leverages deep industry knowledge, data, and connections (100,000+ executives in our proprietary global database) to identify and place leaders with the right experiences, values, and cultural fit to help organizations innovate.