business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Interesting piece in the Washington Post about how Matthew Wadiak, a co-founder of meal kit company Blue Apron, is getting into what might be called the artisan poultry business.

According to the story, his new company, Cooks Venture,, is partnering has with pure-play e-grocer FreshDirect “to sell pasture-raised, slow-growth, heirloom chickens.” The Post writes that Wadiak “is banking on the idea that consumers will bypass brick-and-mortar grocery stores to buy their chicken online from name-brand producers if they believe it’s more wholesome and sustainable.”

Here’s the background:

“On 800 acres on three farms in Arkansas, the company is raising Naked Neck Free Rangers, a three-way cross bred for its heat tolerance. With a hatchery, 30 houses for broilers and 27 for pedigree birds (these are the parent stock for the broilers), they aim to produce up to 700,000 chickens per week, chickens with unrestricted access to the outdoors, no antibiotics and feed that includes toasted soy, hemp and whole legumes like lentils and high-protein lupins.

“These birds are bred for slower growth (55 to 62 days from birth to slaughter, compared to the 42-day industry standard), with a focus on proportional growth so the birds don’t develop health problems struggling to support their breast weight. The slaughter process includes creating a soothing sound environment and belly rubs to calm the animals.”

Wadiak argues that “ninety-nine percent of the chicken out there is conventional poultry raised in a confinement space. There just is not any pasture-raised chicken in scale, no chickens out roaming the pastures like ours. What people buy in the grocery store — whether it said free range or organic — is all greenwashing. They are confined, with horrible genetics designed to convert feed to muscle mass swiftly, to the detriment of the bird and the environment.”

The Post writes that “FreshDirect will sell the meat for $3.99 per pound. Cooks Venture on Wednesday begins taking orders for whole chickens, two for $40 — prices that are comparable to the higher-end chicken available in grocery stores.”

I have to admit that I’m intrigued … and maybe even a little hungry to try this chicken. If it is as good as they say it is, it could be an Eye-Opener.
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