While the bird itself may struggle to fly, experts say that turkey demand is headed skyward. Ascending with it are the options afforded to consumers looking to add Thanksgiving’s mascot to their daily diets.
“Overall, nationwide, there are many more turkey products on the shelves today than there were five years ago,” said National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg of Protein Alliance, “which is mainly due to increased consumer demand for turkey.”
Technomic’s “2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report” backs up Wittenburg’s assertions.
The study found that 39% of consumers are more likely now than two years ago to order turkey outside of the holiday season.
Also, half of all shoppers believe that most chicken dishes would taste just as good with turkey.
The turkey meatloaf burger. (Photo by ServeTurkey.org)
More than 25% of consumers include turkey in their sandwiches, wraps and burritos at least once a month at breakfast time.
“The turkey industry is continuously innovating to create new products that consumers are looking for all year long,” said Wittenburg.
“The ground turkey category has expanded noticeably when it comes to valued-added products hitting shelves in the retail space over the last five years,” he said. “Ground turkey now comes in all forms from chorizo and Italian-seasoned to patties, sausages, meatballs and more.”
He also mentioned “growth in the turkey parts family,” with options such as turkey wings, necks, drumsticks and cutlets gaining popularity.
With grilling season at its zenith, grill masters are on the turkey hunt.
“Burgers made with ground turkey are some of the most popular items to prepare on the grill,” said NTF Advisory Board member Karen Buch of Nutrition Connections.
Buch believes making value-add abundant and simple will further drive turkey sale numbers as Americans seek new ways to incorporate the meat into their meals.
“Place recipe tear pads and cross-merchandising signage throughout the store to highlight key ingredients needed to make Sriracha Turkey Burgers,” said Buch. “Begin in the meat case near the ground turkey and repeat in fresh produce near the fresh cilantro, lettuce, garlic, cucumbers and onions, in the dairy case near the eggs and in center store near the Sriracha, cumin, Thai sweet chili sauce, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs and burger buns.”
Patrick Cassata, corporate executive chef of Standard Market and another member of the NTF Advisory Board, also believes that retailers should be active in ensuring that consumers engage with the popular meat.
“We should continue to lead by example when it comes to culinary trends by creating the experience first, then introducing the products and techniques or applications that can easily be done at home for the consumer,” he said. “This generates a strong foundation and sense of trust or comfort when it comes to the customer’s willingness to take turkey out for dinner.
“We recently launched a successful Dinner for Two 2 Go featuring turkey, spinach and mozzarella rouladen,” Cassata added. “Our customers appreciate our efforts to showcase new and on-trend items that inspire their weeknight dinner options. Turkey gets big points in this approach as guests become more aware of turkey’s versatility.”
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