EDISON, N.J. -- Making a meal out of rotisserie chicken is the way to go, for raising category sales as well as profits.
That's what Todd Benckini, Northeast regional deli sales manager for Perdue Farms, Salisbury, Md., told seminar attendees at Taste Show & Exhibition, sponsored by Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.-based Eastern Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association here late last month.
"Your service deli already has all the components necessary to turn your rotisserie chicken business into a profitable takeout opportunity," he said.
Adding side dishes is just the start. It is also crucial to point them out to customers and make suggestions for full meals at the same time, because people are too busy to do much meal planning, Benckini added.
"The people in your stores have come there to buy food. You can let them know they don't have to go home and cook it, that they can get a whole meal already prepared."
And if retailers don't do it, other powerful food providers will certainly fill the gap. "If you're not committed to providing an easy meal and letting customers know it's available, the Boston Markets and Roy Rogers of the world will get those mouths to feed," Benckini said.
He outlined merchandising techniques designed to help retailers get their share of the market for home meal replacement. He urged them to capture part of the audience that's already in the store.
The potential for exploiting the side dish category, in hot and cold form, has hardly been tapped in supermarkets, Benckini said.
Signs can go a long way toward this goal. In addition, he suggested carryout dinner boxes with a menu printed on them; grocery bags printed with a menu or ad; takeout menus and menu boards at the service counter; bag stuffers, danglers and ad cards on the backs of grocery carts, and PA system announcements.
"You can emphasize freshness by telling customers when the next batch of rotisserie chickens will be ready. Tell them how many flavors of chickens you have and what they can buy with it to make a meal. You could announce the flavor of the day or of the hour."