Ones to Watch Prepared Meat and Poultry: See through success
October 2, 2008
There’s transparency. And then there’s Murray’s Chickens’ transparency.
There are few things consumers cannot find out about this South Fallsburg, N.Y., poultry processor and its chicken and turkey products.
Murray’s offerings are all-natural, certified-humane, antibiotic- and hormone-free and vegetarian-fed. And those aren’t just passive claims. Once they return home from the supermarket, retail consumers can visit Murray’s Web site and learn not only where a particular bird was raised, but also the farmer responsible and the actual coop where it was reared.
“The people who buy our chickens, they are passionate about the food that they eat,” says Steve Gold, vice president, sales and marketing. “It’s not just about how it’s grown, they want to know who grew the food. … And we alleviate that concern.”
Gold is referring to the company’s “on-pack farm verification.” This program allows consumers to take a number printed on product packaging and enter it in a “farm verification” link on Murray’s Web site. The link then directs them to a site where they can “meet the farmer” and see where the farm is located on a map. For those wanting even more information, Google Earth technology allows consumers to actually view a satellite image of the farm’s barn.
“The cool thing is, you can take your PDA and do the search in the supermarket,” Gold adds. “We are the only company in the world that you can actually know who raised your food and where it came from as you put it into your shopping cart.”
Talk about going above and beyond.
This program is just one example of how Murray’s is ahead of the curve on meeting and exceeding consumer expectations.
“Murray believes that if his name is on the brand it better be 100 percent right and 100 percent safe and 100 percent healthy,” says Gold. “That’s our philosophy, and it’s an old fashioned philosophy that now is new school again.”
It makes sense that Murray’s has adopted an old school foundation. After all, founder Murray Bresky has been in the poultry business for 50 years (his kosher poultry company was purchased by Hebrew National in 1983 and he stayed on for 10 years).
Bresky started the company in 1993, emphasizing eco-friendliness and antibiotic-free, humanely-treated, organic-fed poultry from the beginning - a tradition that still defines the company today. In March of this year, the company launched new “eco packaging” effectively eliminating the use of (non-biodegradable) foam trays and reducing overall package size.
“Because they’re smaller, we’re able to put more product on the truck. We feel for every 81 trailers we send out, we save one [truck],” Gold says. In September the company also introduced eco-friendly soaker pads, made from renewable resources.
“We go the extra step. When we came out with new eco-friendly packaging, we worked with the company to make sure even the glue was non-toxic,” Gold adds.
Murray’s also implemented an eco-water system in its South Fallsburg plant where many of its products are processed.
“We don’t buy outside chlorine anymore, which could be toxic,” Gold explains. “We electrolyze salted water at the plant to use for sanitation purposes.”
These extra touches are exactly what company executives feel Murray’s consumers are looking for. And their efforts are paying off.
Today, the company has seen demand grow - especially outside the natural food store niche. Murray’s now produces more than 400 SKUs for retail, foodservice and private label. Three years ago, Gold says, Murray’s products were split evenly in terms of distribution to natural food stores and mainstream supermarkets. But, now the scales have tipped.
“The mainstream supermarkets have really devoted concentration to the antibiotic free/organic sections [of the store]. That’s where the biggest growth has been,” he notes.
Murray’s plans to drive this growth even further by expanding its value-added products this fall. Slated for launch are: a refrigerated chicken soup kit; an expansion to the frozen, precooked Chicken Express line - grilled chicken strips in different flavor profiles; and Gluten Free Popcorn Chicken, Chicken Fillets and Chicken Fries.
FAST FACTSMurray's Chickens
Location: South Fallsburg, N.Y.
Top executive(s): Murray Bresky, president and CEO
Annual sales: NA
Primary product (s): Refrigerated chicken and turkey; Frozen chicken nuggets, sausages, chicken burgers, pot pies and gluten-free items for both retail and foodservice.
Brands: Murray’s, Chicken Express, private label
Distribution: East coast and Midwest
On the Web: www.murrayschickens.com