Early on in the health food craze, consumers learned that foods with “Lite” in their name were better for you than the regular version, and that labels that toured “50% fewer calories” or “Now with half the fat” were preferable. The fact that many of them were fairly tasteless didn’t seem to matter. They were considered healthier, and that was more important than taste.
That attitude is swiftly changing, however. Consumers want products that are good as well as being good for you. For those shoppers who refuse to sacrifice a quality eating experience in favor of health attributes, a product line like Thin ‘n Trim is tailor-made for them. While the brand’s premise is simple — healthier food that tastes good — it’s found a large audience.
“We believe the consumer desperately wants to improve their eating habits. The big problem with ‘better for you foods’ is typically they taste terrible. Low fat or low sodium has been synonymous with bad taste,” explains Elias Demakes, director of sales for Demakes Enterprises Inc. Headquartered in Lynn, Mass., Demakes Enterprises has been producing meat products for more than a century. The company is known for its Old Neighborhood line of products, as well as its Thin ‘n Trim line.
Demakes says that when consumers started to turn away from sodium, fat and MSG in the 1980s, the company decided to put its manufacturing expertise to work and develop products that meet those needs. All products under the Thin ‘n Trim brand are 95% fat free, very low in sodium — Demakes notes that the deli meats and chicken sausages are the lowest sodium products in the market — MSG free and gluten free.
The Thin ‘n Trim line started with a deli line of bulk and pre-sliced items and has grown to include all-natural chicken sausages, ham steaks and gourmet hot dogs.
There is a balancing act in adding sodium to a deli product. Take too much away, and the product can be too bland. Add too much, and the same problem can occur.
“A manufacturer’s best friend is sodium. It adds flavor, it retains water, and it helps to bind products,” Demakes says.
He points out that some competing products have between 700 and 950 mg of sodium in them, while Thin ‘n Trim products have between 100 and 300 mg.
“Many deli meats today look like water balloons. They are injected so heavily with sodium that they become too wet and their texture becomes excessively rubbery,” he says. “Our deli line has so much less sodium that when you cut our products against the competition, our turkey eats like a fresh turkey you would have on Thanksgiving, our hams eat like baked ham you might enjoy during the holidays, our roast beef is moist and delicious.”
Demakes says that the Thin ‘n Trim line has plenty of growth opportunities. More consumers are seeking all-natural, antibiotic-free, GMO-free and organic items. As more farms transition their animals in that direction, the company plans to go along for the ride.
In fact, the company’s latest brands, Waterhill Naturals and Waterhill Organics, are 100 percent natural or organic, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, nitrite & nitrate-free and come from third-party certified humanely treated farms.
“People want to eat cleaner and feel better,” he says, “and we want to be the company that helps them to achieve this goal.”