Covid Operator Reality

Wayne Farms

What is the new normal for operators and food service in 2021, and how can you maximize your profits by letting core menu items shine?

Calorie conscious and vegetarian options are officially out of the spotlight. The circa 2018 kale craze is the last thing on the consumer mind this year as we continue to navigate the ever evolving pandemic. 2021 is all about focusing on family meal options that provide comfort and relief to the busy caretaker.

The hassle of meal planning, trips to the grocery store, finding the time to cook and plate can be overwhelming with the battle fatigue that many are facing in these times. Even a drive through order has become cumbersome for the average family of four. Handling multiple orders, packaging and beverage choices can hold up drive-through lines - not to mention minimizing profits.

Now operators are stepping up to change the way they provide a fast dining experience, and it’s paying off!

In 2019 there were very few restaurants piloting home style meal options, as most stores were focusing on value alone - think BOGO, and half priced burgers. It was groundbreaking to have a fast-food chain offer a “take and bake” chicken parmesan option (here’s looking at you Chick-Fil-A), and even before the pandemic, consumers caught on that this was a look into the future.

In 2021, we don’t expect this trend to change with Forbes estimating double-digit sales growth on meal kits and packaged dinners through 2023. Operators around the country are getting onboard and figuring out new ways to maximize the profit of their most popular menu items by packaging side, main entree, and sometimes even dessert options in convenient bundles for their consumers.

So where does Chicken come into play?

One word. Protein.

Kid-friendly, filling, and a weeknight staple. Even with kale out of the spotlight, consumers say that they prefer a lighter protein, such as chicken, for the bulk of their meals rather than a heavy beef or pork-based dish. Restaurants serving up chicken options have boasted significantly increased profits surrounding poultry focused meal options in 2020.

Picky-eater approved, and extremely versatile - maybe we’re a little biased, but poultry based entrees seem to be the answer to sustaining your menu profits and leveraging this solid market for years to come.

Operators should let protein do the heavy lifting on the menu—focus efforts on “take and bake” options and “assembly required” kits that highlight the ever-loved chicken as the protein of choice. Affordable and comforting, it looks like chicken will remain the most royal in the roost, the king of kits, the prince of protein… you get the point.


Wayne Farms has been designated an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce by the President and Department of Homeland Security, and we take this role seriously. We have successfully taken necessary steps to ensure the continued supply of chicken products, at current levels, to the customers and consumers who depend on us. Over the past year, we’ve focused our efforts on minimizing the impact of the virus on our workforce and our production through PPE, physical barriers, social distancing, plant entry temperature monitoring and personal hygiene. Employee COVID-19 vaccinations are currently underway and our goal is to have all team members vaccinated in the near future. Going forward, our customers and consumers who enjoy our products can expect us to reliably meet their chicken supply needs.