- Raley’s private label chickens are now 100% antibiotic-free with no added hormones or preservatives, according to a company press release emailed to Grocery Dive. The changes will be applied to its Raley's Private Label Chicken and Raley's Purely Made Organic Chicken brands.
- The retailer is also sourcing cage-free chickens for both brands. The organic line sources birds provided with non-GMO vegetarian feed raised in houses that provide access to the outdoors.
- On top of the new label claim, the chickens will now be packaged in 100% recyclable trays.
California-based Raley’s is one of many grocers capitalizing on shoppers' growing interest in cleaner products. Over half of consumers (55%) trust their primary grocery store when it comes to being an ally in their health and well-being, according to a recent report from the Food Marketing Institute Foundation,
Raley's new offerings is a strategic move as demand for "free-from" products increases. Adding a label claim such as grass-fed and antibiotic- and hormone-free can push sales by as much as 4.8%, according to a report from the North American Meat Institute, while garnering more of the trust and reliability that consumers are seeking in their local grocers.
A number of other retailers have been rolling out "free-from" chicken in their deli departments, with Costco revising its animal welfare policy to restrict the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic use in 2018. Whole Foods, which targets consumers seeking cleaner products, sold so many chickens that its organic supplier, Bell & Evans, is constructing a new 560,000-square-foot facility in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, that will triple production to keep pace with demand. Even as far back as 2013 Trader Joe's was exploring its customers' opposition to antibiotics.
Manufacturers have also seen the so-called "No Antibiotics, Ever" writing on the wall and are responding in order to keep their place in the competitive poultry pack. Suppliers like Perdue, Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride have announced commitments to reduce or eliminate the use of certain antibiotics in their production practices. ShopRite partnered with Perdue last year to expand its "No Antibiotics, Ever" chicken line.
Responding to consumers’ demands for different products that match specific health-claims or animal welfare claims is a clear priority for the Raley's. Earlier this year, the retailer revamped its private label lineup, including Raley’s, Raley’s Purely Made and Nob Hill Trading Co. brands to include a new FDA Nutrition Facts panel and redesigned packaging, among other things. It also plans to expand its Purely Made line after adopting stricter standards and protocols that prohibit over 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients.
A number of grocers have recently launched their own natural or organic product lines. A few are even dedicated to expand their product offerings in this category, including Target's Simply Balanced, Albertsons' O Organics brand and Walmart’s Great Value Organic. Hy-Vee is also working to remove over 200 artificial ingredients and chemicals from 1,000 of its store brand products.