“Basically every kid loves a chicken nugget, but every parent is suspicious about what goes into a chicken nugget," Serafina Palandech, co-founder of Hip Chick Farms, said at Natural Products Expo West.
For the most part, she explained, that suspicion is well-founded with many chicken nuggets containing “lots of fillers, starches, waters, preservatives” and other hidden ingredients that most parents do not want their children to eat.
Recognizing that consumers increasingly want cleaner products, McDonald’s earlier this month began testing a new buttermilk chicken tender in North Carolina that is made with all white meat and no artificial flavors or preservatives. This follows a move by the fast-food giant last April to relaunch its McNuggets without artificial preservatives.
And while Palandech says she is “glad they are trying to go in the right direction,” she adds, “they just still have a long way to go.”
Hip Chick Farms, on the other hand, makes “beautiful food, very, very simply made,” Palandech said.
She explains that the company’s products are “very clean and use just the best ingredients we could find” to “to make it really convenient for busy families.”
In 2017, the company will take their products a step farther by moving to 100% organic and 100% non-GMO certified. It also will vastly expand its product portfolio, launching several new products in 2017.
In addition, Palandech says, all of the company’s products are humanely certified with the Global Animal Partnership, “which means we know our farmers and how the animals are being raised and cared for. They are all Step-3 rated. They have indoor and outdoor access. They are free range.”
As such, she said, “we are trying to make the best product with the best ingredients.”
The company’s focus on animal welfare is in line with broader industry trends, which Palandech says she is “thrilled” to see.
“Animal welfare is becoming part of the movement and organic meat and poultry is becoming more prevalent,” she said. “Everyone cares about it now. Everyone cares about anti-biotic free, everyone cares about organic and everyone cares about animal welfare. So [the category] is growing phenomenally. If we create demand for chicken nuggets, that means we can work with more farmers that meet all those attributes and can encourage financially more farmers to convert.”
Ultimately, this cycle will create “economic reward in the long run for all of us to move this forward,” she said.