New brands spring up every day, to capitalize on the changing consumer trends. When shoppers started looking for healthier meat products, meat cases soon filled with products that were antibiotic-free, GMO-free or organic. When plant-based products started to sell, numerous new brands jumped into the fray. Yet one company that is a leader in both sectors is not some newcomer to the industry. Bilinski Sausage is a multi-generation processor and a long-time, recognized brand in the meat industry.
The success that the company has enjoyed as a result of its change of direction shows that even a well-established name in the marketplace can pivot to something different.
“Bilinski’s is an old and venerable company – we’ve been around since 1929!” explains Stacie Waters, CEO of the Cohoes, N.Y.-based processor.
Like many other family meat companies, Bilinski’s started out making Old-World sausages and local favorites like kielbasa, hot dogs, and bologna. When Waters came on board the company in 2004, she wanted to change the company’s focus.
“My family is all about a healthy lifestyle. I wanted to make products that reflected my family’s values – responsibly-raised meats that I could feel good about, made with just everyday ingredients and as many vegetables as possible,” she explains. “Some of what we made back then just didn’t fit, so we let those items go, and focused on organic and all-natural chicken sausages, made from humanely raised chicken and whole ingredients.”
Bilinski’s sausages come in both traditional and unexpected varieties. There is an organic andouille and a natural Italian sausage with bell peppers and onions. There is also an organic kale with white beans and garlic sausage and a natural apple with ginger the Chardonnay sausage. Waters also launched a plant-based sausage brand called High Peaks that features creative flavors as well.
Bilinski uses multiple ways to explain its mission and philosophy. Its label is informative without being busy, but there are some things that cannot be explained on a label. For example, Bilinski’s organic chickens are raised to GAP (Global Animal Partnership) Step 3 standards.
“We use our website to go into more detail about our product features – like Certified Organic, GAP step 3, our simple ingredients all listed by name on our labels, that our chickens are raised without antibiotics, and more,” Waters explains. “We also try to do some informative graphics and features through our various social media avenues – Instagram in particular.”
One thing the company has done is attach the phrase “from the ground up” to its company logo. It refers to the company’s use of simple ingredients and minimally processed sausages.
“This is how you would make chicken sausage if you were to make it at home, but who has the time to do that? Anyone who tastes one of Bilinski’s chicken sausages can identify every one of the ingredients that goes in there,” Waters says. IP