Perdue’s Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown talked to food session attendees at Alltech's recent symposium about how Perdue builds consumer trust by meeting expectations for quality. In his presentation, Stewart-Brown used Perdue boneless skinless chicken breasts to discuss tenderness and the program Perdue uses to ensure chicken meets consumer expectations.
According to Stewart-Brown, the most important quality relating to boneless skinless chicken breasts is texture or tenderness. He said consumers often think the cooking process is the main determinant of tenderness, but, in reality, the quality of the meat itself is a major factor.
In order to achieve optimal tenderness, Stewart-Brown said Purdue developed a program utilizing a machine that measures tenderness. The measuring method, referred to as an “instron test” determines the pressure required for a set of metal “teeth” to go through the chicken. Instron values are typically between 2 and 5, with below 4 as optimal and 5 as the point where consumers typically say chicken is tough. Using instron values, Perdue has developed requirements for boneless skinless breast texture.
Purdue’s focus on texture began as a result of their customer feedback program. According to Stewart-Brown, Purdue typically receives around 1500 customer calls per month. Trends in customer feedback allow the company to generate hot spots, or specific quality attributes like tenderness, that plants need to improve. Complicated, unresolved hot spots become “captained projects.” Texture became a captained project after customer toughness complaints reached 3 to 4 per million pounds of chicken. Stewart-Brown said Purdue’s testing program has been beneficial, and customer complaints have decreased.