Sainsbury’s Simon Twigger is one of the speakers at this year’s Egg and Poultry Industry Conference. Poultry World seeks his views.

The past 12 months has seen much change in the poultry retail sector. First came the series of TV programmes in January with celebrity chefs encouraging consumers to switch from conventional chicken to free range, leading to a subsequent surge in consumer demand for free range and high welfare lines.

Then this was followed by the credit crunch from this summer hitting the pockets of consumers. So what impact will this, coupled with changes in legislation such as the cage egg ban, have on the poultry and egg offering in Sainsbury’s?

Poultrymeat

Q. Has high food inflation and the credit crunch affected demand and what has happened to consumer buying habits?

A. Demand has been strong in chicken, in particular whole birds and drumsticks, as customers are looking for value. Customers are cooking more often and are prepared to eat at home more often. Chicken still remains popular as a family meal.

Q. What’s happening with free-range chicken and where does the future lie?

A. We now have full availability of free-range British chicken and have now launched our “Freedom Foods” accredited range of products. Growth has continued to be strong despite the increases in price. It has taken several months to ensure sufficient supply of British chickens to the standard demanded by Sainsbury’s.

Q. Is welfare still a major influence on Sainsbury’s shoppers or has this changed in the current economic climate?

A. Customers are still concerned about the welfare of the animals used to produce food in this country. Our customers still tell us they want Sainsbury’s to source their food responsibly. However, we need to supply the full range of products to appeal to our broad cross-section of customers and their differing needs in this new economic climate.

simon twigger

Simon Twigger, Sainsbury’s fresh food director

Q. Have there been any novel poultry innovations and how are you developing products to encourage chicken consumption?

A. All our developments need to be in response to demands from our customers and our goal of “making their lives easier every day”. A great example of this is the pop-up timer that we sell with our whole turkeys to help customers know when their Christmas meal is cooked to perfection.

Eggs

Q. Is Sainsbury’s to stop selling cage eggs from 2012?

A. We have stated that we will stop selling caged shell eggs by 2012 and that is still the case. We have reduced our range of caged eggs over the past few years and launched “Woodland Eggs”, which we believe gives our laying hens the best possible natural environment.

Q. If so, what do you see replacing this – will more consumers buy barn eggs or will they trade up to free range?

A.We see the longer term trend of customers to buy free-range eggs to continue despite the short-term pressures caused by the increases in prices.

Q.And what will happen to the value egg, currently 88p for a pack of six, and how important are value sales to Sainsbury’s?

A.We serve over 18m customers a week and they demand “Great products at fair prices”. We will need to continue to offer eggs at the full range of market value.

Q. Are you planning to widen this cage egg ban to ready meals and other products?

A. We already only use free-range eggs in our Taste the Difference, Kids and Supernaturals ranges. We have stated our intention to roll out free-range eggs to the rest of our prepared foods products.

Q. What is the longer term trend on all four categories – organic, free-range, barn and cage?

A. We are still seeing growth in free-range eggs, but also growth in value egg sales. This is sometimes the same customer if you are using a lot of eggs in cooking or baking.


EPIC Conference theme: Meeting consumer choice through innovation

9am CHAIRMAN’S INTRODUCTION James Hook, PD Hook

9.15am PRESIDENT’S REVIEW Aled Griffiths OBE, JA&O Griffiths & Sons

9.40am RETAILER’S PERSPECTIVE, Simon Twigger, fresh food director, Sainsbury’s

10.15am COFFEE

10.45am CHICKEN INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE Andrew Maunder, commercial director, Lloyd Maunders

DUCK INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE William Buchanan, commercial director, Gressingham Foods

EGG INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE Amanda Cryer, director, British Egg Information Service

TURKEY INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE Richard Houlbrooke, international sales, Hybrid Turkeys

12.20pm PANEL DISCUSSION

12.50pm LUNCH

2.30pm HOW DO WE INNOVATE AND DIFFERENTIATE? David Hughes, emeritus professor of food marketing, Imperial College

A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE FSA Andrew Wadge, chief scientist, director of food safety policy, Food Standards Agency A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE GROCER Michael Barker, fresh foods editor, The Grocer

4pm TEA

4.30pm PANEL DISCUSSION

How to attend

Forest of Arden Hotel, Warwickshire, on 3 November. Attendance at the conference will cost £175 plus VAT. This is the discounted rate for booking by 6 October (full rate is £197). Book your place by requesting a registration form by calling EPIC secretary Peter Sharman on 01400 273 889 or email sort@psharman.demon.co.uk.Maps and directions available at www.epicconference.co.uk