Convenience specialists

By Barbara Young, Editor-In-Chief
Of all the food categories available to consumers, it seems deli is the thing these days. That being the case, Tyson Foods’ deli division is stepping up to the plate with its introduction of a line of innovative multi-protein Deli Specialties™ products designed to complement deli rotisserie-chicken programs in retail food stores. This billion-dollar business, part of Tyson’s prepared foods operation, plans to gobble up retail customers with a win-win message detailing how supermarkets can provide beef and pork culinary options to keep consumers flocking to their meat cases.
“Our little division is a billion-dollar company,” points out Eric LeBlanc, director of marketing, Deli Prepared Foods and Deli Marketing. “We would be a fair-size company all on our own.”
Tyson Foods Inc., the Springdale, AR, parent of this “little” division, is positioned as the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, annually generating more than $25 billion. Fortune magazine ranks Tyson as the second-largest food company in its annual Fortune 500 report. Recognized as the market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves, Tyson produces an extensive variety of branded protein-based and prepared-food products marketed in more than 80 countries around the world. Its 2002 acquisition of IBP, the dominant global beef and pork marketer for several decades and generating nearly $17 billion in annual sales, propelled Tyson to new heights in terms of market capability. Foodbrands America and its four divisions including Continental Deli Foods came with that acquisition. “When we were part of Foodbrands, we tried selling beef and pork items produced its plants, but we never took the initiative to develop products specifically with deli in mind,” notes Sabrina Bewley, customer marketing manager, Tyson deli. “We would sell lunchmeat and say ‘by the way we also have pot roast.’ There was no focus and no strategy. When Tyson purchased Foodbrands, we identified the category. We still had foodservice marketing and deli retail marketing — but it made so much more sense to give more focus to the beef and pork products that could be sold right along with rotisserie chicken and fried chicken. We made that switch at that time.”
As a key force behind Deli Specialties, LeBlanc is comforted by the contributions gained from the IBP acquisition. “We are not new to deli. We sell more chicken through deli than any other manufacturer on the planet. We have history on the Tyson retail deli side through brands that reach back a hundred years. Through IBP, our heritage also stretches back in beef and pork.” NP