Alberta-based processor focused on fulfilling demand
By Jim Knisley
processor is focused on fulfilling consumer demand for
What do consumers want?
If you’ve been to a food industry conference lately you’ve heard that question and also heard an analyst tell you “consumers want it all.”
That is certainly true. They want convenience, they want quality, they want diversity, they want variety, they want the usual and the unusual, they want affordable food, they want fresh, they want frozen and increasingly they want local.
But if you ask consumers what they want most of all from the food they buy as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada did in 2005 you’ll learn that they demand nutrition and taste and need convenience.
Another key factor in selling processed products is to make sure you avoid the things consumers don’t want.
“With processed products, consumers are reading labels more carefully and frequently looking for what is not added to these products; they want cleaner ingredient labels and good nutritional decks. They are checking for things like sodium levels, fat content, nitrate and other preservatives, and they want the first ingredient on the list to be “real” meat, rather than MSM,” said Lilydale’s vice-president of Marketing, Lindsay Dunn.
Consumers want the convenience of processed and ready-to-eat products, but they are not entirely willing to sacrifice nutritional value. If you can develop a healthier processed product, that marries good nutrition with convenience, like Lilydale’s new pepperoni made with leaner turkey meat, then you will generally have a hit with consumers, Dunn said.
Lilydale has done its research and has embarked on a new direction to meet the challenge of providing what consumers want.
With a national award already under the company’s belt, Lilydale has decided to move deeper into the realm of further processed products (FPP) and is expanding FPP operations at two of its locations.
As one of the newer players in the FPP arena, “Lilydale is answering the consumer call for convenient, healthy products that don’t skimp on taste,” said Connie Smart, manager, Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Lilydale Inc.
The company recently unveiled a new R&D kitchen at its North Edmonton location dedicated specifically to new product development.
Due to the high demand for its fully cooked, seasoned, sliced chicken breast Lilydale also recently expanded capacity at its Edmonton South Plant.
The Edmonton south Plant had been Lilydale’s sole facility for FPP for the past five years following a halt in FPP production at its Abbotsford Plant in 2003. But this June, FPP was re-introduced at Abbotsford.
The refurbishment and re-utilization of the Abbotsford FPP facility is a result of increasing consumer demand for products that offer ease and convenience and will help to ensure a greater volume of Lilydale products are available for market, says Lilydale’s Michael McRae, VP Further Processed Products division.
“Lilydale has seen tremendous growth in our further processed products division over the past three years,” says McRae. “We are very excited about the re-utilization of the FPP facility to enable us to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers.”
“High double-digit (increases in) demand is driving Lilydale’s need to increase capacity,” said Dunn .
“With today’s consumers focused on health and wellness trends, Lilydale is in the right business. Poultry is well positioned to take advantage of the health trend because it is a naturally leaner source of protein. It is also a good meat base to work with because it has a clean taste and can be easily seasoned to make a delicious product,” she added.
Consumers have discovered that processed chicken and turkey products are great if you are trying to eat better these days, which is driving overall growth, she said.
Further processed products produced at the Abbotsford facility will focus entirely on the utilization of dark turkey meat. Marketed under the Tailgate™ brand, they will include smoked sausage, smoked sausage with cheddar, pepperoni mild, pepperoni hot, and knackwurst. Output is estimated at 800,000 kilograms in the first year and products will be sold Canada-wide.
With the production of this new line of products in Abbotsford, Lilydale will be the first further processed meat processor in Canada to use a state-of-the-art, resealable packaging technology and the first in North America to utilize it for smoked sausage.
“Our ability to lead the way with this new packaging technology is just one example of our commitment to finding exciting and innovative new ways to bring consumers a fantastic product,” McRae said.
In addition to the new Tailgate™ line, other new brands, include the award-winning Roast & Boast™ turkey, Daystarters™, and Latitudes™ .
This spring, Roast & Boast™ turkey (a consumer-friendly, freezer to oven product) was crowned the winner of the best new product in the Deli, Meat and Seafood category in the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards™ competition. The company’s Daystarters™ bacon-flavoured turkey slice was also named a finalist in the same competition.
“All of us at Lilydale are extremely proud and excited to receive this prestigious award and to be able to bring Roast & Boast™ to the dinner tables of Canadian consumers,” says Lilydale president and CEO Ed Rodenburg.
The accomplishment is one that vice-president of Marketing Lindsay Dunn says speaks to the company’s focus on product innovation. “This recognition from the Grand Prix judges highlights Lilydale’s achievement in providing consumers with food choices that are truly innovative and that fit with their ever-changing needs for healthy and convenient products,” says Dunn.
Roast & Boast™ offers consumers a no-fuss traditional meal, roast turkey without all the work. The product is a whole, frozen turkey between 5-7 kilograms in size that goes directly from freezer to oven with no thawing or handling required. Ready in four to five hours, it is pre-seasoned and pre-basted and comes in its own roasting jacket.
Also aimed at convenience is the company’s new Latitudes™ brand. Launched earlier this year, it is the first fully cooked chicken breast prepared in a gourmet sauce ready in a convenient heat-in-the-microwave pouch.
Company research shows that – nearly 50 per cent of consumers said they would serve Latitudes™ as an alternative to eating at a restaurant and more than 60 per cent said they would serve Latitudes™ instead of fast food or takeout.
“There has never before been a product like this in the chicken category in Canada,” says Dunn. “The packaging technology we have used is already popular in Europe and the U.S. and it allows us to offer a very tender, fully cooked chicken breast which is ultra-convenient to prepare.”
The product also allows the consumer to customize meals. There are four entrées and three side dishes allowing consumers to mix and match and create a complete meal.
“Chicken is widely accepted as a healthy source of protein and a staple in Canadian households, so we’re just making it easier for Canadians to enjoy chicken breast entrées. We really see this as the perfect meal solution for busy urbanites who want to take a wholesome lunch to work or need a quick dinner idea when they get home after a long day,” Dunn said.