Make it Good, Fast ...and Easy!
By Bryan Salvage, Editorial Director
Make it good, fast ...and easy!
New value-added meat and poultry products exhibit convenience, high quality, and in some cases ease of preparation. Consumers won't settle for anything less.
Land O’ Frost Chicago Sub Company Snap-Apart Fresh Packs. Pepperidge Farm Frozen Premium Pot Pie. Hormel Chili Smart Pak. “New” ConAgra Healthy Choice Frozen Meals. New Trails West 97 Percent Fat-Free Beef Jerky. Black Tie Hors d’Oeuvres. H-E-B Fully Cooked Sausage Kolaches. These are just several new products introduced in the past year tagged as innovative by product trackers.
New products, particularly innovative ones, continue to be the life-blood of the meat and poultry industry. And all protein groups are buzzing in new product development.
“We continue to see a lot of [new product development] activity with pork, particularly in regard to ready-to-heat, ready-to-eat, and frozen items,” says Karen Boillot, director of retail marketing, National Pork Board (NPB).
Some new pork products have already been designated as “winners.” Golden Fork award winners in the NPB’s most recent Consumer’s Choice Pork Awards contest, which are made up of products that are judged to fit well into people’s lifestyles adding variety, convenience, and great taste while helping to make pork a part of everyday meals, include:
Johnsonville Heat and Serve Mild Italian Sausage— Exhibits a well balanced spicy kick in an easy-to-prepare microwave package. Its grilled appearance and overall versatility appeals to consumers. Features include a flexible serving size, resealable top, and collapsible packaging
Iowa Quality Meats Prime Rib Roast — This fresh pork product boasts flavor and tenderness plus it creates an all-family meal with less perceived bother than other roasts. This product has great eye appeal. Consumers commented on its heartiness and homemade appearance. This product offers flexibility to create quick, satisfying dinners during the weekday or more formal events on the weekends.
Tyson Vegetables and Pork Butt Roast — This convenient kit makes it a great fit for consumers’ lifestyles. It allows individuals to create great-tasting, homemade meals in a short time with ease.
Hormel Southwestern Pork Carnitas — Bringing in diversity and casualness to mealtime, this pork product with bits of real tomato gives consumers a sense of freshness and variety in texture. Features a pleasingly spicy flavor and tender bite.
Hormel Pork Chops and Gravy — This product has homemade appeal with its special gravy and tender and tasty pork— and the convenience consumers want with an all-in-one bag and box package.
Boillot also cites several products —Spa Cuisine from Lean Cuisine Pork with Cherry Sauce, and Iowa Quality Meats’ Fully Cooked Pork Drummies — as unique retail pork products. Both were among those Consumer Choice Awards entries that were awarded the Esteemed Trendsetter award for their unique and innovative approach to product development. The Lean Cuisine product demonstrates packaging convenience as it goes from the freezer to the microwave in the original package. Drummies can be served as an appetizer or main entrée. Product is tender, juicy, and can be heated in minutes.
“The Lean Cuisine item is really a first step into breaking into the healthy frozen entrée section for fresh pork,” Boillot says. “And the Drummie is a super use of a fresh shank for an appetizer item — again another ‘first’ for fresh pork.”
Winning with chicken
A number of new retail chicken entries have entered the marketplace during the past year. Eat Well Stay Healthy is a new line from Pilgrim’s Pride designed to meet the needs of today’s health-conscious consumers.
“As a country, we are exercising more, growing older, and becoming more aware of what we eat. There is a growing body of medical evidence in support of healthy eating’s impact on wellness,” relays the product-line’s Web site (www.eatwellstayhealthy.com). “Fact is, a significant number of us have made a decision to live a healthier lifestyle and want to stay healthy...but as has always been the case, we don’t want to give up anything...whether it be taste, bold flavors, or new choices...we want to eat well...we want it all...and we want it now! That’s why at Pilgrim’s Pride, we believe the only fair thing to do is to give consumers what they want —Eat Well Stay Healthy.”
This line is available in: Szechwan Chicken Breast Tenderloins, Italian Style Grilled Chicken Breast Fillets, Key Lime Flavor Chicken Breast Fillets, Grilled Chicken Breast Strips, Chicken Breasts, Split Chicken Breasts, and Chicken Breast Tenderloins. These products meet the American Heart Association food criteria for saturated fats and cholesterol for healthy people over age two and are certified as such.
New retail chicken products from Tyson include Tyson® Refrigerated Fully Cooked Roasted Diced Chicken Breast and Tyson® Premium Chunk Chicken Breast Pouch. The latter product is tender all-white meat chicken, and is 97 percent fat free in an easy-open foil pouch that requires no refrigeration. New from Perdue Farms are Perdue ® Wingsters® Split Chicken Wings. which are marinated, cooked to perfection, and smothered in tangy Buffalo Glaze, and Perdue® Short Cuts® Grilled Chicken Breast Fillets, which are fresh, fully cooked grilled chicken breast filets available in either Honey Roasted or Char Grilled flavor.
Most retail turkey products are branded, points out Sherrie Rosenblatt, senior director of marketing and communications, National Turkey Federation.
“You are seeing more and more convenient turkey products in the meat case,” she says. “These products are packaged in a form that makes it easier for the consumer to get dinner on the table. For instance, turkey cutlets, which are turkey breast cuts, are in a form that makes it easy to marinade and cook in a skillet or on the grill in less than twenty minutes.
Consumers are also seeing marinated turkey tenderloins.
“This product can be put in the oven, cooked quickly on the stove, or in the grill,” she adds. “There are also ready-to-heat products that require no fuss in the kitchen. Even rotisserie turkey breasts are making their way into the deli section, which provides the consumer a product they know, like, and feel good about feeding their children.”
Tasty, new value-added retail turkey products abound. Carolina Turkey, Mt. Olive, NC, for example, offers pre-cooked turkey meatballs, turkey mignons (individual portions of tender turkey breast in three flavors: bacon wrapped, roasted garlic, and barbecue), and Roast-In-Its Own-Bag product line — three 3-to-6-pound turkey breasts go from freezer to oven. And Oven Ready, a new fresh-frozen turkey from Jenni-O that goes directly from the freezer to oven with no thawing, cleaning, or any other worries, is sealed in a FOOL-PROOF cooking bag with pop-up timer for moist, tender turkey every time. It’s available in Homestyle or in Butter, Garlic and Herb products. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods offers Tyson® Carved Turkey Breast in Gravy.
“Growing the turkey category in the retail sector is essential,” Rosenblatt says. “As more and more turkey products come onto the market in convenient forms, consumers are responding favorably as they know that turkey is not only good for you, but it tastes good, too.”
Beef it up
The biggest news on the new retail beef products front is the big increase seen in retail stores carrying Beef Value Cuts, specifically the Flat Iron Steak, says Randy Irion, director of retail marketing, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
“The Flat Iron is now available in more than 2,500 stores through a wide variety of retailers,” he adds. “It hasn’t gone chain-wide with a lot of retailers, but we expect that will happen fairly soon.”
Beef Value Cuts are the result of muscle profiling work done several years ago.
“We discovered there are some very tender muscles in the chuck and the round that when they were separated differently than historically done, we get some very tender and flavorful steak items. The Flat Iron is a top-laid steak where we trim it differently —we take out the strap, and it becomes a very tender and flavorful muscle.”
Another retail beef trend evolving since January 2004 is the increase of branded beef programs with some major retailers.
“Albertsons just launched both a Blue Ribbon Beef program and Steakhouse Choice —the first being a Select program and the latter being a Choice program,” Irion says. “And Safeway has its Rancher’s Reserve®, and Kroger is in the process of launching its own tender-aged Choice beef program. Target has a unique [steak] program —Sutton & Dodge. This program is the result of efforts that have come out of Precept Foods, Austin, MN—the joint venture between Hormel Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions. It’s available exclusively at Super Target stores, which have fresh-meat programs.”
There’s also a lot of activity in the heat-and-serve category particularly with private-label products.
“Tyson has recently reformulated all of its heat-and-eat products —that’s big news,” Irion says. “Smithfield is out there very aggressively promoting its heat-and-serve products. RMH Foods, Morton, IL, which packs all of the Smithfield programs, is also promoting private-label programs with Kroger and Publix, just to mention a few. This is a very hot category.”
Banquet offers its new frozen Banquet® Crock-Pot Classics, which it touts as being “the first complete meal designed and created for Crock-Pot® slow cooking. Its contains all of the ingredients needed including meat, vegetables, potatoes, and seasoned sauces—ready to cook with less than five minutes of preparation. Product is available in Wal-Mart stores. Tyson also markets a crock pot kit for a beef pot roast with vegetables, Irion says.
“New product development in the retail beef industry is absolutely critical,” he adds. “The life blood of any consumer product is new product development.” NP