Bernard Matthews plans organic, free-range meats

Bernard Matthews, the poultry brand hit by avian flu earlier this year, is planning to launch free-range and organic meat in a desperate attempt to reassure the public about its products.

Bernard Matthews marketing director Matt Pullen says the move would “help people to reappraise the brand”.

Public confidence in the beleaguered brand hit an all-time low earlier this year, according to figures from YouGov BrandIndex, much worse than at the height of criticism of its Turkey Twizzlers (MW February 8). Last week, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced the company will not face prosecution over the bird flu crisis and the company hopes this will help to restore consumer confidence.

Interbrand managing director Graham Hales says Bernard Matthews needs a “tangible story” to support its organic or free-range launch because it has become synonymous with processed food.

The launch of free-range and organic whole birds, and roasting crowns and joints is expected before the end of this year. It is part of a wider relaunch of the Bernard Matthews brand, which aims to make it more “relevant to today’s consumers” with new recipes and products.

The company has faced a number of difficulties over the past few years including those caused by Jamie Oliver’s crusade against its Turkey Twizzler product in his Channel 4 show, Jamie’s School Dinners. But consumer confidence was hit harder by the bird flu scare earlier this year.

The £7m relaunch aims to build on turkey’s position as the only meat that is classed as a superfood and to make Bernard Matthew’s a key part of that. It has also reduced salt and fat levels and removed all artificial colours, flavours and preservatives across its product range, and launched products with 100% turkey breast meat.

It has revamped its logo and packaging, which now includes both the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) nutritional information, endorsed by the Food and Drink Federation, and traffic light labelling, which is supported by the FSA.

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