Organic chicken will soon become more affordable for consumers through a new line of Perdue Products. Perdue’s Simply Smart Organics chicken products will hit the shelves in October, at about half the cost of other organic brands, according to company estimates.

The new organicic chicken products will include whole grain, gluten-free and lightly-breaded varieties of nuggets, strips and tenders in the frozen and refrigerated foods sections.

Frozen, fully-cooked organic chicken can sometimes be difficult to find in grocery stores because it is typically found in speciality retails stores, said Eric Christianson, chief marketing officer for Perdue.

“We wanted Perdue Simply Smart Organics to be more available to consumers looking for a better option and  in the stores where they are already shopping,” Christianson said.

“Exact prices for these new products are not yet available, as pricing is determined by individual retailers.  but Perdue does anticipate these new organic products to be more affordable relative to other similar products, without compromising organic standards, convenience or taste,” Christianson said.

Perdue’s Simply Smart products are already available in stores, but after the October launch, they will have the certified organic seal.  To be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agricuture, the chickens must be given no GMO feed and a 100-percent vegetarian diet.  The chickens must also be free range, allowed to behave naturally and never given antibiotics.

Perdue is making these lower prices possible by investing in its own brands, Christianson said.  One way the company is doings so is through the Perdue Agribusiness, which sources and supplies the organic grains it needs.

The organic food industry has grown significantly over the past two decades.  When organic food sales were first recorded in 1997, the industry brought in about $3.4 billion.  Last year, the industry totaled $49.4 billion in sales.  Organic broiler chicken sales in the United States saw a 78 percent increase in 2016 from the previous year, with a total of $750 million in sales, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“A majority of consumer’s prefer organic chicken, but the price differential has been a problem for a significant number of households,” said Memo Diriker, a professor of economics and director of the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University.  “This move by Perdue to make organic chicken products more affordable is not only good for the consumer but also for the overall poultry industry,” Diriker said.