Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 35

the foodservice environment. The center
will provide specialized equipment specific
to a customer's foodservice environment, as
well as a conference center with video and
teleconferencing capabilities to facilitate
communication for any team members unable
to visit the site in person.

STICKING TO THE STRATEGY
When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
hit last year, Birchwood remained steadfast
in its effort to continue serving retail and
foodservice customers.
" I don't know of an industry or individual
who was not impacted by the COVID-19
pandemic, " Wehking said. " In terms of the
impact the pandemic had on our business,
we really focused on making sure we were
providing our partners what they needed, when
they needed it. "
Birchwood's retail sales spiked, as did many
processors who were able to shift, when the
pandemic hit, and the segment has remained
strong. Foodservice sales dipped in March 2020
when much of the country was locked down,
but by June the company's sales bounced back
to pre-COVID levels.
" Our foodservice partners shifted to drivethru, takeout and delivery, and we were able
to provide them the product they needed, "
Wehking said. " We are seeing more dine-in
options open up and our sales are reflective
of that. "
Long-standing relationships in the industry
with deep roots have ensured Birchwood's
ability to deliver high-quality products and
service, regardless of circumstances.
" This hasn't changed in the last year, "
Wehking said. " We are focused on providing
our partners innovative solutions to the everevolving challenges the industry faces. "
Recently, due to customer demand, the
company no longer produces precooked
burgers. Because customer demands have
shifted, Birchwood reallocated the resources
to run that part of the business to focus on
meeting the needs of its customers, based on
evolving consumer purchasing behaviors.
" Our strategy is always to be a partner and
work with others to share success, " Wehking
said. " That hasn't changed, and we continue
to have a steadfast focus on innovation and
quality. "

Foodservice outlook
for 2021
At the end of 2020, Chicago-based foodservice
research firm, Technomic, released white papers sharing
its predictions for the foodservice industry in 2021.
Predicting trends is not easy, especially in the wake of
a global pandemic, but Technomic's overall view of
the future of foodservice remains positive. While some
of the predictions live outside of the meat and poultry
processing industry, there are two that could directly
affect processors and how they operate.
Social justice beyond buzzwords - The United
States is currently in the midst of change concerning
historic inequities, and corporate America is buying in
more than ever before. Companies are communicating
definitive messages around where they stand on social
justice issues, but younger customers, such as Gen
Zers, will demand " ...deeper, more specific layers of
transparency on fairness and inclusion, " according to
Technomic.
Taking a stronger stand - When the pandemic
hit, it moved up on the list of priorities and somewhat
overtook social and environmental progress, but
Technomic predicts a shift back in the coming year with
an even stronger urgency. Foodservice operators will
take a firmer stance on climate change by adjusting
menus to offer more plant-based substitutes, marketing
carbon footprint levels of items and restaurants, and
supporting suppliers who implement environmentally
friendly practices.

www.meatpoultry.com | 04.21 | MEAT+ POULTRY

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Meat+Poultry - April 2021

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