Turkey wings, drumsticks hit IGA store shelves

Chain-wide, in-store product tasting scheduled for August

Janick Martin says her company's turkey wings and drumsticks scratched up some serious concession stand sales when they were introduced at Montreal Alouettes football games last year.

Now she's hoping they will drum up equal interest from health-conscious grocery shoppers at IGA stores across Quebec–and even have the legs to fly into new markets across the country via Sobeys and the Canadian Football League.

Martin is one of four owners and the general manager of Le chef et moi, a food service firm located in St. Hyacinthe, a half-hour's drive southeast of Montreal.

According to Martin, the company developed the fully-cooked, packaged products in conjunction with Quebec turkey producers.

"They approached us to try and develop new cuts that would make turkey more of a year-round food, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Martin.

She added that, unlike the massive smoked turkey legs that are sold as snack food at Disney parks and other venues in the United States, her company focussed on cooking the legs and wings from smaller turkey breeds in vacuum-sealed bags.

"Ours are much more tender, better tasting, and easier to eat," said Martin.

The Montreal Alouettes  began selling three of the new products - Original Recipe drumsticks and wings, plus BBQ wings - at their home games in 2014.

"They told us they took a bite out of hot dog and pizza sales," said Martin.

In addition to returning to Als' games, and being featured in 15-second ads during TV and radio broadcasts, the turkey drumsticks and wings went on sale this week at all 285 IGA stores across Quebec.

A Sobeys Québec spokesperson said the new products, which retail for $10.99 for drumsticks and $12.99 for wings, are a perfect fit with the grocer's Joy of Eating Better campaign.

Launched in May 2014, the program puts a premium on healthy, local products.

"One of the program pillars is to help people make responsible choices, and these turkey products certainly do that," said Laurie Fossat.

In addition to being low fat, high protein and locally produced, Fossat noted that the precooked products are also convenient, requiring only a few minutes of reheating in the oven.

Those attributes will be highlighted in IGA flyers beginning next week.  A chain-wide, in-store product tasting is also scheduled for August.

According to Martin, Le chef et moi has deals in the works with other Sobeys divisions across Canada, including Safeway, in an effort to roll out the new products in other Canadian markets in the near future.

The company will also sell its drumsticks at the upcoming Calgary Stampede, as well at particular venues like the Granby Zoo.

"Our next big step is to work with other CFL teams and get into their stadiums," she said.  "Our products are up and running as a healthy snack that people can really get their teeth into."

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