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Chicken, Turkey and Tuna Have a Beef With Your Burger


Wall Street Journal

Steve Lykken, President of Jennie-O Turkey spoke with the The Wall Street Journal about the brand’s #MakeTheSwitch campaign

Beef, which has long fulfilled America’s hunger for hamburgers, faces fresh competition from poultry producers pushing their own patties onto U.S. grills.

Fueling the battle is a record supply of meat in the U.S., pressuring prices and spurring meat producers to seek out new markets.

Hormel Foods Corp., one of the largest U.S. turkey suppliers, in June launched a campaign urging consumers to “make the switch” from ground beef to ground turkey.Tyson Foods Inc. last year introduced shrink-wrapped packs of ground chicken and chicken burgers marketed under its Aidells brand. Meanwhile, tuna and salmon burgers jockey for space in grocery-store meat cases, alongside a new generation of plant-based burgers.

Right now, beef remains the undisputed leader by sales in the $12 billion-a-year retail market for ground meat, according to Nielsen. U.S. consumers spent more than $10 billion on fresh ground beef alone during the 12 months ended May 26. The only other protein coming close was ground turkey, with $1.2 billion in retail sales.

But retail sales of ground chicken and turkey have each grown by more than one-third over the past five years, versus a 6% increase for ground beef, according to IRI. Beef producers learned not to underestimate poultry after the early 1990s, when chicken overtook beef as the most-consumed meat in the U.S. …

Hormel in June launched a multicity campaign for ground turkey, running TV and online ads imploring consumers to “make the switch” away from ground beef. The effort continues a periodic push Hormel introduced in 2010, when the company set out to “convert people to turkey by hijacking America’s love affair with the burger.”

Steve Lykken, president of Hormel’s Jennie-O Turkey Store unit, says ground turkey is leaner than beef for health-conscious consumers, and performs similarly: “It emulates the texture and carries the flavor really well.” …