Tyson has added a new level to its Chairman’s Reserve line with “Prime” high-quality pork. The distinction is more familiar on the beef side of the business, but the hope is that consumers looking for top-of-the-line products will respond to Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork in the same way. The brand was introduced with a tasting reception at the Annual Meat Conference in Dallas in February.
Products in the line are selected based on the quality of marbling, color and pH level. Kent Harrison, VP of marketing and premium programs for Tyson Fresh Meats, told The Shelby Report that only about 17 percent of pork produced would qualify as the “absolute best.”
“People know of ‘prime.’ They get it right away,” Harrison said. “Premium is up there as well, but prime has got to be better. What goes into this selection is going to be fantastic.”
It answers a need for retailers, too, because it isn’t enhanced.
“There’s…very little that stands out as being ‘better’ until you maybe enhance it,” he said. “But retailers don’t want to enhance it, because then it can’t be marketed to the consumer as being something that is wholesome and natural, so this is really hitting that aspirational element with a better-quality product without worrying about doing something to it to make it better.”
Harrison said there will be an educational element for consumers with the new Prime product, and retailers could help that along. He said that while most consumers don’t want to be educated, per se, this product will appeal to that consumer who is “self-selecting” to want to know more.
“We’ve got to partner with the retailer, who will be able to communicate with the consumer, whether that’s at the store level or working with us with the collateral that we provide, so that they can understand that this is really good,” Harrison said. “It is important to have the right information about the marbling, the pH and the color—and to explain that, trying to keep it isolated to those three things so they can absorb it and understand it—and then obviously the proof is in the pudding when they get it home.”
The products will be random weight rather than in uniform packaging. Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork will arrive at meat departments ready to cut, so retailers can add their own touch to merchandising the product.
“It is critical to find a retailer that will work with us,” Harrison said. “He needs to buy in so that it’s displayed, that it has the right labeling, that they’ve got the right communication. Part of it is identification, part of it is the written material, but when you can get them to believe enough that the store-level employees are talking about it, that’s when you win. We need to partner with the retailer.”
Harrison said Tyson has done a number of cuttings with some retailers on the East Coast, and “they’ve just been raving about it. We’re very excited.”
—Terrie Ellerbee, editor–Midwest and Southwest