Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 55

Photos: National Turkey Federation

I

n 2019, the National Turkey
Federation (NTF) took its Turkey
Smoke campaign nationwide. The
federation set out to educate more
consumers - specifically those who
participate in barbecue competitions
- about cooking, or technically
smoking, turkey alongside the other
popular proteins. As a result, a
turkey category was featured in 29
barbecue competitions around the
country, including Memphis in May,
the American Royal in Kansas City and
the Giant National Capital Barbecue
Battle on Pennsylvania Avenue in
Washington, DC.
"Through Turkey Smoke
events, NTF is showcasing how
turkey naturally fits into barbecue
competitions, no matter how you slice
it," said Beth Breeding, vice president
of communications and marketing for
NTF. "Our goal with building Turkey
Smoke and taking it nationwide is to
increase demand for NTF members'
products by inspiring pitmasters and
backyard grillers to try turkey."
Of course, when stores and
restaurants shuttered this spring as the
coronavirus pandemic spread about
the country, events, too, were canceled.
And that included many of the popular
competitive barbecue events.
"Many in-person events have had
to cancel this year, and we wanted to
find a way to engage with competition
barbecue teams while they were stuck
at home," Breeding said. "We've held
two virtual Turkey Smoke competitions
thus far."
The first event was in May with
The BBQ League and the Kansas
City Barbeque Society (KCBS), and
the second was part of DC's Giant
National Capital Barbecue Battle
that transitioned to virtual. There
were around 80 competitors total,
each submitting photos and videos
showcasing their entries.
The winner of Turkey Smoke in The
BBQ League/KCBS event was Simone
Fernandes. Wolf's Revenge BBQ won
the Giant National Capital Barbecue

Battle's Turkey Smoke category.
MEAT+POULTRY spoke with
Breeding to learn more about NTF's
involvement with the barbecue
segment, as well as to find out how the
protein segment is handling changes in
consumption and distribution that have
resulted from the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.
MEAT+POULTRY: What are some
of the NTF's latest efforts to promote
turkey within the industry and on the
plates of consumers?
Beth Breeding: Barbecue outreach
has been a major focus for the National
Turkey Federation. Turkey's versatility
makes it an ideal addition to the
smoker or the grill - plus it is often a
quicker cook. With more consumers
cooking at home than ever, we see
an opportunity to further introduce
them to turkey outside of just the
holiday season or the lunchbox. NTF's
Turkey Smoke campaign is taking
turkey to competitions and backyards
alike, and Ray Lampe, a member of
the Barbecue Hall of Fame, is our
"spokeschef" and partner in creating
new recipes and content.
M+P: How does the NTF educate and
pique consumers' appetite for new and
different ways to enjoy turkey?
Breeding: We want to highlight just
how many different ways turkey
can fit into a meal. We all know it's
the star of Thanksgiving, but turkey
can take center stage at a weeknight
dinner as well. NTF shares recipes
and meal inspiration with consumers
through our @ServeTurkey social
media channels and website recipe
archive. We also work with bloggers
and influencers who help promote
turkey content.
M+P: How are turkey production,
processing and consumer consumption
faring presently?
Breeding: There have been significant
challenges in 2020 across all segments
of the industry. Production has

"NTF is showcasing
how turkey naturally
fits into barbecue
competitions, no matter
how you slice it."
- BETH BREEDING

declined this year as the industry
adjusts to ongoing shifts in market
demands. In most cases, turkey
processing now is running close to
normal capacity. Turkey consumption
has remained solid throughout the
current situation. Looking at growth
year-over-year, we've seen consistent
gains at retail, with ground turkey
performing especially well. However,
stronger retail sales have not fully
counteracted the sharp decline in
foodservice business for the industry.
M+ P: We have heard a lot about
challenges in the beef and pork
segments during the COVID-19
pandemic, but not very much about
turkey processing. How has the
industry avoided the challenges pork
and beef processors have faced the
past six months?
Breeding: Our member companies
have been incredibly responsive to
the challenges of COVID-19, and I
think that played a significant role
in their ability to develop innovative
plans for safely continuing operations
throughout the pandemic. Obviously,
there were illnesses in some turkey
plants, but the industry was able to
contain them quickly, implement
additional safety procedures and
minimize plant downtime.
www.meatpoultry.com | 09.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

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Meat+Poultry - September 2020

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