SALISBURY, MD. -- Poultry king Frank Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms, is introducing a line of cooked chicken parts that he hopes will help people on the run put together dinner without resorting to fast food.
The products, collectively called "Perdue done it!," are roasted chicken parts, whole Cornish hens and spicy chicken wings that can be served from the package or warmed in a regular or microwave oven.
The packaged chicken products -- with a shelf life of 17 days -- should be available in supermarkets in the Baltimore, Washington and Northern Virginia areas soon, Perdue said last week. He said he expects the products to enter stores in Philadelphia, New York and New England markets by July.
"Convenience is what this is all about," Perdue said. "This will appeal to busy women who want to save time in the kitchen. There are a lot of women working out of the home, who are too busy to spend all day in the kitchen."
"Time is money to people nowadays," he said, noting that fast-food restaurants and frozen gourmet meals have soured a generation on in-home cooking.
Unlike Perdue's fresh poultry, the line is fully cooked before leaving the company's plant in Bridgewater, Va.
"All of these products are prepared by using a new cooking procedure and a special oven," Perdue said. "The chickens are sealed in an airtight package that gives it a 17-day shelf life."
The chicken is protected from spoiling by a nitrogen and carbon dioxide mixture that retards spoilage, allowing for more durable storage than partially cooked chicken products, he said.
Perdue said his company's precooked dishes will stand virtually alone in the Northeastern markets, where Perdue chickens are the market leader, and will be sold alongside the company's fresh poultry products in the stores' meat sections. He said he wasn't sure how the cooked products might compete with fresh also produced by his firm.
However, he said the new chicken parts stand alone in their category.
"We expect our new product will increase poultry sales by expanding our market base," he added. "Given that our product is the only one that can be served in a few minutes in a microwave oven, there isn't very much competition out there right now."