Originally printed in the April 2018 issue of Produce Business.
Companies come to market with a new wave of mixes that combine produce, protein and grains.
Pairing produce and protein turns a simple bite into a satisfying snack or mini-meal salad. That’s because dietary fiber found in fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, combined with protein found in meat, poultry, nuts and seeds, is a winning combination when it comes to producing a feeling of fullness.
What’s more, protein is on-trend. Consider that meat and poultry are forecast to continue as consumer favorites, with retail sales projected to reach nearly $100 billion by 2021, according to Meat & Poultry: U.S. Retail Market Trends & Opportunities, published by Packaged Facts in April 2017.
Additionally, grains such as high-protein quinoa are growing in demand. Case shipments of quinoa by broadline distributors to U.S. foodservice outlets are up 18.5 percent, according to the NPD group’s SupplyTrack data, as reported in January 2018.
“As consumers look at health more holistically, they want convenient food to be delicious, filling and healthy,” says Priscila Stanton, vice president of marketing at Ready Pac Foods in Irwindale, CA. “Functionality from food continues to be important, so consumers look to claims like ‘excellent source of protein’ as well as how many servings of fruits and vegetables they consume. For fresh, value-added produce, consumers want to have options that include animal and plant-based proteins as well as a variety of fresh vegetables.”
Health and convenience are two big trend boxes checked off by consumers in this six-item line of fruit and protein snacks. Flavor profiles offered in these 5.5-ounce single-serve snacks range from sweet to savory and spice and are ideal for everything from fueling up after a workout to eating on a road trip. Combinations are: Rich & Savory (strawberries, pistachios and Gouda cheese), Sweet & Crunchy (strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon almonds, white Cheddar cheese), Smooth & Smokey (strawberries, blueberries, Smokey almonds, Monterey Jack cheese), Sweet & Zesty (strawberries, cracked black pepper cashews, aged Swiss cheese), Classic & Sharp (grapes, blueberries, roasted sea salt almonds, sharp Cheddar cheese), and Bold & Spicy (grapes, chili mango cashews and Pepper Jack cheese).
Snacks & Snack Trays
Two new items pair produce and protein with preschool-friendly Nickelodeon and Disney characters to create wholesome and appealing snacks. The PAW Patrol line launched this winter at Walmart stores nationwide with two snack pack trays, each 4.2 ounces in size. One contains sliced apples, Cheddar cheese, caramels and cinnamon dog bone cookies, and the second includes sliced apples, string cheese, grapes and cinnamon dog bone cookies. The second new item is an extension of the company’s snacking line with Disney and features an organic Snacker for distribution at Costco that includes 4.5 ounces of apple sticks, Cheddar cheese pieces and pretzels in a three-pack option with brightly colored graphics. The company has developed a meal replacement item to launch this spring that contains egg and other high protein options for older ‘desk-side diners.’ Create a healthy snacking category in the produce department that can become a destination for these products.
Ready Pac Foods
Green Goddess Salad with Chicken & Herbed Avocado Dressing
This spring 2018-introduced Green Goddess Salad with Chicken & Herbed Avocado Dressing is the latest entry in the company’s rotating Limited-Edition Bistro Bowl series that features seasonal flavors throughout the year. The product contains chopped Romaine lettuce and shredded carrots with diced chicken, green peas, cubed radishes and an herbed avocado Green Goddess dressing, all topped with crispy chow mein noodles. The single-serve salad comes in a 6-ounce container.
PRO2snax to the Max
PRO2snax to the Max, an extension of the company’s popular PRO2snax, is a four-item line of meal replacements launched last fall, made up of fresh-cut produce and healthful proteins. The 6.5- to 7.35-ounce single-serve size products provide up to 17 grams of protein per pack, or nearly one-third of an adult’s recommended daily intake. Flavor combinations are: Baby Carrots & Mild Cheddar Cheese with Turkey Sausage Bites & Almonds; Gala Apples & White Cheddar Cheese, Hard Boiled Egg, Dried Cranberries & Almonds; Sliced Apples, White Cheddar Cheese, Dried Cranberries & Turkey Sausage Bites; and Sliced Apples & Mild Cheddar Cheese with Hard Boiled Egg, Dried Cranberries & Cashews.
Del Monte Fresh Produce
Snack Tray with Hummus
Coral Gables, FL
One of the company’s newest plant-based protein products is the 30-ounce vegetable tray with hummus, which is available starting in April. Del Monte Fresh also recently launched 2-ounce hummus snack pack with pretzels, carrots and celery, as well as 6-pack wraps offered in turkey, club and Caesar flavors. Display these on-the-go items close to the checkout and front entrance of the store.
FiveStar Gourmet Foods
Simply Fresh Salads
The addition of popular center of-the-plate proteins moves this line of on-trend flavored salads from side dish to healthy meal. Santa Fe Style Salad with Chicken is the best seller because of the bold flavors of the dressing’s sundried tomatoes and chipotle peppers. Other varieties include top-selling Ultimate BLT Salad with bacon crumbles, antibiotic-free chicken, fresh tomatoes and crispy bagel chips; and Organic Blueberry, Walnut and Feta Salad with Grilled Chicken. The salads, which range from 5 to 7 ounces, are functionally packaged for stand-up merchandising. The company continues to develop additional flavors to meet regional and seasonal preferences, such as their Thai Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken and Antipasto Salad with Genoa Salami.
Wholesome Salad Kits
Satisfying consumer demand for convenient, restaurant-quality, organic salads made with in-demand ingredients and added nutrition in the form of plant-based proteins is the aim of this three-item line of salad kits marketed under the Earth Greens brand. The 9- to 9.25-ounce kits contain fresh-cut roasted vegetables, salad greens and nut (walnuts and almonds) and seed (pepitas) toppings. Flavors are: Roasted Beets & Greens, Roasted Golden Beets & Greens, and Roasted Butternut Squash & Greens. The company plans to expand its offerings with plant-based proteins soon.
Spicy Thai Nourish Bowl
The newest flavor profile of Spicy Thai has joined the company’s now six-item line of Nourish Bowls, the only warm, veggie-based meal kits currently in the market. Ingredients are nutrient-rich kohlrabi noodles, fresh kale and carrots, a spicy Thai sauce and toasted sweetened coconut flakes. The new bowl joins Monterey Risotto, Sesame Sriracha, Southwest Chipotle, Bacon Maple Brussels and Cauli Rice Curry in the innovative single-serve meal line that ranges from 7 to 12 ounces in size. Nourish Bowls appeal to a wide demographic, from moms to Millennials, and have created a new segment, Vegetable Bowls, within the specialty vegetable category.
Dole Food Company
Greek Chopped Salad Kit
Westlake Village, CA
The ninth and newest flavor variety in the company’s chopped line is the Dole Greek Chopped Salad Kit. Launched in early 2018, this 10.3-ounce bagged kit contains bite-sized Romaine lettuce, Feta cheese and sweet onion pita chips with herb-oregano seasoning and the company’s own Greek Vinaigrette dressing. The kit combines the growing popularity of Greek-inspired salads with public preference for chopped salads. Other flavor varieties in the company’s chopped line also include at least one protein such as seeds or cheese.
Kings Food Markets
Power Bowl Bar
Influenced by the casual dining trend of Buddha Bowls — colorful containers typically comprised of vegetables, healthy grains and protein — shoppers at four of 25 locations of this upscale retailer can create their own customized Power Bowls for lunch or dinner. Fillings include a selection of greens, grain blends and roasted or raw veggies, topped with either Lemon Tahini or Carrot Miso dressing. The bars, which opened in January, are in the Market Square section of the store, near chef prepared foods and ready-to-go dishes. The Power Bowl bar’s ingredients will change seasonally.