- Perdue Farms announced the debut of its own e-commerce portal to tap into the direct-to-consumer sales trend.
- The company will start by selling frozen beef, pork, chicken and lamb items on the site under its own brand, plus those bearing the Niman Ranch, Coleman Natural, Sonoma Red and Skagit Red brands. These include heritage, organic and pasture-raised products, and the company said the animals are raised without antibiotics.
- Online orders will be shipped using 100% recyclable packaging with foam insulation made from water-soluble cornstarch, Perdue said. Each order will also include a reusable shopping tote and a packet of seeds from plants designed to attract bees and butterflies. For each sale from the site, the company said it will donate to the Arbor Day Foundation to help offset the carbon footprint of the shipment.
With its new e-commerce portal, Perdue is entering an increasingly popular space in the food industry. According to Brick Meets Click, online grocery shopping jumped 15% in 2019 and now makes up 6.3% of all U.S. grocery-related spending. Household penetration grew 5% last year to 25%, while the average spending on orders also rose 6%.
However, there are several hurdles to ordering perishable goods online, including a lower adoption rate from shoppers for food that can spoil, as well as the need for fast delivery. According to data from IDC for Precima, fresh meat and seafood still lag behind other categories in regards to digital purchases. Health and beauty, for example, tops the list at 33.7% of shoppers who buy it online now and 50.6% very likely to do so in the next 12 months. On the other hand, meat sits at the bottom, with 19.4% purchasing the items online and 28.8% more prone to do so in the next year. To try to draw new customers, Perdue is offering a 10% discount on first-time orders, which may help push consumers past their initial reluctance to test the service.
To address the delivery issue, the company is also offering only frozen items that are vacuum-sealed, placed in foam coolers and surrounded with dry ice. If anything goes wrong, the company says it will replace items at no charge. This satisfaction-guaranteed approach could help alleviate consumer concerns.
In a potentially smart marketing move, Perdue's choice to use recyclable packaging, send reusable totes and seed packages, and donate to the Arbor Day Foundation could also appeal to the sustainable shopper. Nielsen survey data from 2018 show 48% of U.S. consumers are likely to change their purchasing habits to meet certain environmental standards.
Currently, most meat companies offering online ordering are smaller outfits providing specialized cuts or prepared items that aren't cheap. Larger competitors such as Tyson Foods, JBS, Pilgrim's Pride, Hormel and Cargill provide meat products to retail and foodservice customers, but they don't appear to be offering online portals for DTC purposes. But if Perdue finds success with its new site, it could pave the way for others to create their own digital ordering channels.