Metro Detroit-based Skinny Butcher, a plant-based brand launched by former Garden Fresh Gourmet executives, has announced its restaurant-quality line of Crazy Crispy Chick'n Breasts, Tenders, Nuggets and Patties is now available throughout Michigan at Costco Wholesale, all Gordon Food Service outlets, and SpartanNash corporate stores. Founded by Dave Zilko, Mike Griffin and the late Jack Aronson (whose wife, Annette, remains active with the company), Skinny Butcher is also offered at independent markets via Lipari Foods' distribution network of more than 700 stores in 27 states.
Unlike Garden Fresh's humble beginnings at the Aronson's struggling Ferndale, Michigan, restaurant, Skinny Butcher debuted nationally in the competitive, plant-based frozen poultry alternatives category in May 2022 at Walmart. The Skinny Butcher brand was part of a copromotion with the popular Netflix series Stranger Things, with the TV show's logo on the company's Crazy Crispy Chick'n Nuggets package. The campaign went viral on social media and was Walmart's #1-selling plant-based item throughout June 2022. Skinny Butcher then entered Midwest and Northern California Costco locations and expanded regionally in thousands of Safeway, Albertsons, Gelson's and H-E-B supermarkets.
"Skinny Butcher's successful debut on the national plant-powered protein stage has been exhilarating, but nothing tops the feeling of bringing our delicious, best-in-class line to market at home," said Zilko, CEO of Skinny Butcher. "It meant everything to us that Garden Fresh was based in Michigan and succeeded on our unwavering commitment to having the best products, using the best ingredients, and creating a brand profile that resonated with consumers in a fun, authentic way. That same dedication drives us daily at Skinny Butcher."
The company's alternative chicken lineup originated when Aronson adopted a vegan diet after being diagnosed with cancer in 2018, the same time that plant-based food offerings began gaining in popularity. Skinny Butcher is the first to use a vegetable fiber strain Aronson discovered in Italy combined with pea protein (the industry gold standard), a proprietary spice blend and a special double breading method, giving Skinny Butcher the only "Crazy Crispy" crunch in this entire category. The products do not contain soy or palm oil.
"Skinny Butcher has the crispiest, [closest-to-real] fried chicken taste and texture on the market," continued Zilko. "Our exclusive double breading process packs a crunch consumers won't experience with any other breaded chicken or plant-based chick'n product."
The company is striving for a smaller carbon footprint with its plant-based products. The sustainability factor compared to real chicken boasts 96% less water and 97% less land usage, as well as 86% less greenhouse gas emissions.
When it comes to connecting with consumers, Skinny Butcher works hard on branding.
"We've strategically differentiated ourselves with shoppers in an instantly iconic way with our butcher who winks at them and communicates playful information inside clever thought bubbles," said Griffin, Skinny Butcher chief creative officer. "Consumers are in on the fun together, and truly, fun and togetherness are the two ingredients that make family meals memorable and special."
Zilko created a national coalition of world class food development and manufacturing entities when it became evident that, due to the progression of Aronson's illness, Jack would be unable to oversee operations as he did at Garden Fresh. Skinny Butcher is an equity partner with Los Angeles-based Golden West Food Group, which exclusively manufactures its products and shares sales responsibilities. The company also accepted an eight-figure investment from Seattle-based Valor Siren Ventures, proceeds of which will be dedicated to promotional activities.
According to a Midwest broker for Costco, Skinny Butcher is "the best plant-based chicken item featured to date." The company's eight count, two-pound box of Crazy Crispy Chick'n Breasts at Costco retails for $13.99. The suggested retail price for Skinny Butcher Crazy Crispy Chick'n Nuggets, Tenders, Patties and Breasts packages in conventional retail stores is $5.99.
For more information about Skinny Butcher and its sustainable, plant-powered protein products, visit skinnybutcher.com.
Source: Skinny Butcher
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