WASHINGTON - After two seasons of record demand for chicken, the National Chicken Council will seek to carry momentum into the fall with its 16th annual "National Chicken Month" promotion, scheduled to roll out in September.
The program was begun in 1989 as a way to counter slowing sales of poultry as the grilling season comes to a close, but demand for boneless, skinless chicken breasts has remained high this year. NCC representatives said retailers can use the promotion as an opportunity either to build on sales gains from earlier in the year or to broaden their customers' culinary horizons.
"The most popular products are always skinless, boneless breasts, but when there's a period of intense demand like this, it's a wonderful opportunity to promote other products, such as dark meat," said Richard Lobb, NCC's communications director. "Demand for protein is up across the board."
Lobb added that some wholesale groups had encouraged members to raise their prices this year, but said increased supplies are poised to lower prices soon, regardless. "When there's a period of strong demand like this, supply always cranks up in response," he said.
At Associated Foods Stores, Salt Lake City, Utah, lead merchandiser Chris Hauser has been promoting the lower price per pound benefits of family packs through weekly ads, and hopes to boost sales further with the National Chicken Month promotion. "We have noticed an increase in our sales of boneless, skinless family packs, and we felt that it would be best to really hit Chicken Month hard, continue to focus on promotion of family packs and hope to see even more sales increases," she said.
No additional promotions are planned at Baton Rouge, La.-based Associated Grocers, which already runs a feature promotion on chicken every week. However, category specialist Mike Mains has ordered National Chicken Month point-of-sale materials for his members and, through the company's biweekly newsletter, has been encouraging participation in the program.
Eleven major chicken producers will feature on their September packaging cents-off coupons for products by partner brands Crisco, La Choy, Shake 'N Bake and Uncle Ben's. Through a targeted Web site, www.chickeninseptember.com, the NCC has made available free printable images and artwork to support the promotion. Shelf talkers, rail strips, window stickers and other POS materials can also be ordered through NCC for the cost of production and shipping.