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Granny’s Poultry Cooperative

The Winnipeg-based processor has unveiled a new look and healthy direction


August 10, 2010
By Treena Hein

Topics

Combining new with old is something a lot of companies are doing with
their product offerings and marketing these days. More and more are
offering new functional foods – foods containing added ingredients with
health-promoting properties such as omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and
fibre – while at the same time, ‘branding’ these foods using
old-fashioned values.

Combining new with old is something a lot of companies are doing with their product offerings and marketing these days. More and more are offering new functional foods – foods containing added ingredients with health-promoting properties such as omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fibre – while at the same time, ‘branding’ these foods using old-fashioned values.

Grannys
Old-fashioned Branding. Granny’s Poultry Cooperative has rebranded itself, with a new logo that has an old-fashioned feel and that focuses on farmers.  It has also launched a new line of healthy options to meet evolving consumer needs.

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Granny’s Poultry, a Winnipeg-based farmer-owned poultry co-operative and the largest processor in Manitoba, is one of these companies. “We want Granny’s to be recognized by people who are looking for healthier options,” says CEO Craig Evans, “so we’ve created new products and refreshed our image. Our new look captures the importance of our farmers as the core of our business and showcases Granny’s commitment to health and nutrition.” In May, Granny’s announced a line of six new omega-3 fatty acid-enriched chicken and turkey products, and has rebranded with an old-fashioned feel and farmer-centred logo.

Granny’s has 520 employees, 174 member farms and annual sales of $130 million. It was named the 2010 Employer of the Year by the Manitoba Food Processors Association, and has been listed 22 times among Manitoba’s Top 100 Companies. Granny’s turkeys are available all across Canada, while their other products are carried across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and northwestern Ontario. The new omega-3 products will first be available across the prairies and Western Canada and eventually all across the country. Some of them will be the same price as non-enhanced ones, and some will cost up to five per cent more.

New marketing outlook
“Granny’s has spent the past year redefining its mission, vision and values, and developing a clear strategy for growth,” says Evans. “We’ve concluded that one of the best ways to grow the business was to carve out a reputation as a producer of nutritionally-enhanced products.” Granny’s conducted market research across Western Canada. “Parents have told us they want convenient, healthy and nutritious poultry products,” Evans says.

The co-op changed its logo, which used to contain just the word ‘Granny’s,’ “because market research showed the image of a farm and the words ‘farmer-owned co-operative’ resonate well with consumers,” says Evans. To help secure an image of a company that supports old-fashioned values, Granny’s is a sponsor of Manitoba Homecoming 2010, a year-long effort to bring former and current Manitobans, visitors, friends and family together in the province at festivals and more. Specifically, in conjunction with the Manitoba Turkey Board, Granny’s will be running a ‘Home for the Holidays’ contest that will provide a Manitoba family with two plane tickets to bring family members home for Thanksgiving. “In addition, our in-house chef Jason Wortzman will cater Thanksgiving dinner for up to 18 family members at the winner’s home,” says Evans. “We believe many families have holiday traditions but have difficulty getting together and we hope this contest will help people keep their traditions alive.”

Functional products
This spring, Granny’s released the first of its six new chicken and turkey products enriched with omega-fatty acids. All meet the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation’s ‘Health Check’ criteria. “The omega-3 stuffed turkey breast roast was introduced in March,” says Wortzman, Granny’s director of marketing and product development.  “Other products will be rolled out this summer and fall, and include Ginseng Chicken, and four other items with a new breading with more fibre and less sodium.” The company plans to introduce more functional products in coming years.

Omega-3, which supports heart and circulatory health, is now added to a wide range of products, from yogurt, cookies and milk to eggs and orange juice. Among new products that hit North American shelves in 2009, Louis Giguere says a whopping 18 per cent sported a ‘medical’ claim, most of which relate to heart or digestive health. Giguere, marketing and innovation group director at food marketing agency Enzyme (a North American partner of trends-watcher XTC World Innovation) says ‘Boomers,’ who currently make up one-third of the Canadian population, are very receptive to the benefits of functional foods. 

To develop the omega-3 products, Wortzman worked closely with five registered dieticians as well as personnel at the ‘Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals’ at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie, a special operating agency of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Two Granny’s employees – a scientist and a technical assistant – are now stationed full-time at the Richardson Centre. This collaboration began in late 2008, with funding provided by the federal Industrial Research Assistance Program.

Wortzman says several different techniques to add omega-3 fatty acids to the stuffed turkey breast roast were explored. “You must ensure the oil stays in the product, achieve the level of omega-3 you want, and make sure the flax oil doesn’t degrade before the consumer eats it,” he says. He and his collaborators ended up using a method where the meat is infused with flax oil. “Adding flax oil doesn’t increase calories appreciably,” he notes. “Flax oil is very concentrated with omega-3 fatty acids, so you don’t have to use very much, and chicken is a very low-calorie food to start with.” Some of the other new products will contain omega-3 from flax oil infusion, while in others, the omega-3 content will be realized through feeding flax to the birds on-farm.   

At the Richardson Centre, “They are working on all kinds of functional food products,” says Wortzman. “Whenever there is an opportunity that poultry could be used a vehicle, we get involved. We collaborate fully, getting feedback from the scientists on what works and what doesn’t work and they get to learn about new production techniques.”

“Ultimately,” Wortzman concludes, “we can always produce healthy products, but they have to taste good and be convenient. And we have achieved that.”

For more information, visit www.grannys.ca .