Just BARE Chicken, Part 1: The Interview

I recently had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Julie Berling, Director of Brand Strategy for Gold'n Plump Poultry. Gold'n Plump, located in St. Cloud, MN, is a $200 million + company (as of 2002), and one of the largest chicken producers in the Midwest. In recent years, Gold'n Plump has been taken to task for issues related to employee relations and treatment of chickens. Last fall, the company launched the Just BARE Chicken line of products, whose goal is to "provide chicken that is healthy and wonderful." Here's a quick blurb from the Just BARE Chicken website:

It’s time to get back to good.just-bare2 To think about needs beyond our own. To honor the earth with a lighter footprint. To raise better food, locally and conscientiously. Just BARE™ chicken is here. And not a moment too soon. It’s nothing but all natural chicken. No antibiotics, ever. No added hormones. Cage free. Vegetable fed. Traceable to the family farm.  In a clear, recyclable tray. Simplicity is calling.  Don't be too busy to answer. Go minimal.

Sure, it's all about marketing. But what if marketing actually encourages big companies to do the right things? Another post describes how Just BARE Chicken tastes, but first I'd like to give Ms. Berling a chance to describe the product. Read on:

Why did Gold’n Plump start Just BARE Chicken?  

We were seeing a growing consumer need for a nothing but all natural chicken product - raised without antibiotics or animal by-products (vegetable fed). We also saw concerns increasing about where their food from, animal welfare and the environment.  Just BARE was born out of these insights.

How does it fit into the company’s ideals and philosophy?  

It fits perfectly and is a continuation of what we've been doing the company's inception in 1926. For the past more than 80 years, our family-run company has been committed to bringing only the best quality chicken to consumers' tables...and doing it in a way that's respectful to animals and our planet.  

How is Just BARE Chicken different from the rest of what Gold’n Plump sells?

Just BARE is different in that the chickens are raised with a special feed formulation that doesn't include antibiotics, arsenicals, or animal by-products. Every tray and package features a family farm code that allows each package to be traced back to the family farm where raised. And the chicken is packaged in clear plastic trays that are leak-proof, peel open with ease and recyclable.

How are the farmers and farms for Just BARE Chicken selected?

We select our most experienced family farmers who have a history of producing healthy chickens to raise our Just BARE flocks.

What are your standards for raising Just BARE Chickens? How does Gold’n Plump ensure that the farms you work with meet them? How closely do you interact with the farms?

Our chickens roam free in comfortable barns under the watchful eye of independent family farmers—some who have been raising chickens for more than three generations. We’re acutely aware that we owe our chickens our livelihoods. So raising happy chickens isn’t just right, it’s our rightful responsibility.  Company servicemen, experts in animal care, visit our family farmers frequently. Plus, we product and deliver all of the feed the chickens eat to ensure optimal quality and nutrition. We respect animal rights and work hard to instill humane caring practices into everything we do. From start to finish, our chickens are handled with the utmost care by people well-trained in animal science, nutrition, handling, and rearing. We communicate our animal care philosophy to all new and existing employees and family farmer partners, and anything less than the most humane treatment is not tolerated. A healthy chicken is a well-cared-for and well-treated chicken. That's the basis of how we operate.

How did you come up with your packaging? Are you considering switching to this packaging for all of your products?

In terms of packaging, we wanted Just BARE to solve some of consumers main concerns with chicken packaging:

  1. Product visibility: the clear package provides a nearly 360-degree view of the product inside. Plus, because trays are fixed-weight with a barcode, they don't need to be labeled with a price-weight label at the store which would otherwise cover up a large portion of the front.
  2. Wet, leaky hard-to-open: the package is leakproof and peels open with ease, lessening the need to use your finger or dirty a utensil to open the plastic. And it doesn't leak so there's no worries about chicken juice in the refrigerator or counter.
  3. Get rid of the foam: the plastic tray is #1 plastic - which is currently accepted at most recycling sites.

We are continuing to search for additional packaging solutions for Just BARE and our other products that are more user- and earth-friendly.

How far does the chicken get shipped? Is this also a concern for the company?

The product gets shipped pretty much across the U.S.  We're able to do this efficiently because of our existing Gold'n Plump distribution.

What other plans does Gold'n Plump have for the Just BARE Chicken brand?

We may add new items in the future based on consumer response and needs.


Click here to read Part 2 of this article - Just Bare Chicken: the Commentary.

Click here to read Part 3 of this article - Just Bare Chicken: the Wrap-up.