- Poultry processor Sanderson Farms is launching another advertising campaign to tell consumers it uses antibiotics and explain why they're beneficial to the industry, according to PR NewsWire.
- The newly released television and radio ads, called “Old MacGimmick,” follows a similar push by the company last August to reveal what they call "prevalent falsehoods and half-truths within poultry marketing.”
- “At Sanderson Farms, we have made it our responsibility to shine a light on misleading marketing tactics and labeling,” Joe Sanderson, Jr., CEO and chairman of Sanderson Farms, said in a statement.
Sanderson Farms last August bucked the poultry industry’s “no antibiotics” trend by advertising why the company uses them. There is concern that exposure to antibiotics in food may lead to resistance in humans when the drugs are used, but Sanderson Farms has argued this threat is overblown.
Since that campaign launched, it has seen incredible growth through Sanderson's social media accounts. Sanderson Farms reports it experienced a 125.7% increase in Facebook followers, 39.5 million Facebook video shares and 96,000 Facebook post shares. What the supplier doesn't say is how many of those shares and posts were expressing support for its cause, or whether that increases poultry sales at the company.
The company says it has “faced pressure from competitors, activist groups, and the media” as a result of the advertisements. Some of that pressure came in the form of a federal lawsuit that says synthetic drugs and other chemicals were administered to the company’s chickens. This would dispute Sanderson Farms' claim that its poultry is “100% natural.” The lawsuit is pending resolution. If the goal of Sanderson's ad campaign was truth telling, this lawsuit could chip away at its credibility.
The poultry processor reported stronger than anticipated second quarter sales. Sanderson Farms reported earnings of $66.9 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2017, up from $47.6 million a year earlier. Sanderson said this doesn't equate this with the company's advertising, but said it “reflect[s] benign feed costs, continued favorable demand for poultry products from retail grocery store customers, higher volume, and an improving export environment.”
The company also said it raised its sales price per pound during the first half of the fiscal year, which could have contributed to the strong earnings report. One other possible reason for its recent success could be that consumers are choosing Sanderson's products simply because they are cheaper than organic, non-antibiotic competitors. In a time when consumers are turning to healthier, more natural products, Sanderson Farms' initiative is a bold, risky move, but one that could payoff for the company and its shareholders in the future if it is successful.