- ShopRite is switching out its signature, eight-piece prepared fried chicken for "No Antibiotics, Ever" (NAE) chicken raised in a cage-free environment, according to a company release emailed to Grocery Dive. This move comes after its rollout of other NAE chicken products in 2017 like rotisserie chicken, roaster leg quarters and roaster breast. The fried chicken is hand-breaded and cooked in trans-fat-free oil.
- The chicken comes from Perdue Farms and will be sold under the ShopRite Kitchen by Perdue label. The products are priced below most fried chicken and rotisserie chicken offerings.
- The retailer is also providing recipes that include the antibiotic-free chicken. These recipes include Southern Chicken and Waffles, Fried Chicken Game Day Spread and Leftover Fried Chicken Buffalo Chicken Salad.
ShopRite's decision to switch its fried chicken to NAE may help set standards for grocers nationwide, who are often criticized for failing in their offerings of antibiotic-free chicken. According to Organic Authority, in 2017 the Natural Resources Defense Council gave the nation's top 5 chains — Costco, Albertson's/Safeway, Publix, Walmart and Kroger — a "D" grade for their marketing and practices specific to poultry.
As a part Wakefern Food Corp — the largest co-op of supermarkets in the country — ShopRite has the ability to help lead the antibiotic-free movement, as well as help it gain greater market share in amid tight competition. This change to its prepared fried chicken, in conjunction with the introduction of the new line in 2017, show a smart retailer attuned to growing consumer trends. According to USA Today, 27% of U.S. consumers are paying more attention to nutritional information on chicken and 60% are concerned about the welfare of animals raised for food.
The company has also found a fitting partner in Perdue Farms, which has championed its use of antibiotic-free chicken loud and clear in its messaging and packing in hopes of relating to consumers looking for healthy, sustainable foods.
Offering prepared NAE fried chicken could also help ShopRite boost sales by improving its premade food selection. Food Navigator reported that the top performing grocery retailers have the best-prepared food selections, using data provided by market research firm Nielsen. Among these retailers, prepared foods make up 60% of sales.
The partnership with Perdue and its antibiotic-free chicken is just one of many changes recently for ShopRite, including its new private label brand, ShopRite Trading Company, which features premium, artisanal foods inspired by cuisines from around the world, as well as a Mobile Scan program rolled out earlier this year. Currently the new technology, which allows customers to scan items while they shop and then pay, is available at eight stores in its home state of New York. These initiatives seem to have paid off for the grocery store as its parent company Wakefern Food Corp. saw sales jump to $16.5 billion this year, a 1.6% increase over the previous year.