KANSAS CITY â€” With the coronavirus (COVID-19) forcing more people to try their hands in the kitchen, heat-and-eat meat products sold in the grocery perimeter are a perfect option for the cooking-challenged â€” or for anyone who just wants something easy and delicious.
Retail grocery heat-and-eat products from Hormel Foods Corp. include Lloydâ€™s barbecue meats, Hormel refrigerated entrees and Hormel side dishes.
â€œProducts in this space focus on convenience and providing consumers with expanded flavor options,â€ said Swen Neufeldt, vice president of marketing for meat productsÂ and recently named president of Hormel Foods International. â€œOur focus on the branded retail side is to continue offer consumers a quality and convenient option that is as authentic as youâ€™d find in a restaurant.â€
New at Lloydâ€™s, the top-selling heat-and-eat barbecue brand in America, is a partnership with two-time world barbecue sauce champion Pig Beach Mustard BBQ Sauce, the result of which is Pecanwood Smoked Pulled Pork and Hickory Hardwood Smoked Pulled Chicken with Pig Beach Mustard BBQ Sauce.
â€œThese are high quality pulled pork and chicken meals combined with these award-winning sauces,â€ Mr. Neufeldt said. â€œIt gives people a restaurant-style barbeque experience at home in a convenient way.â€
The Lloydâ€™s line â€” and ribs in particular â€” have enjoyed consistent growth, he added.
Hormel is also seeing strong growth in its refrigerated entrees lineup, driven largely by younger consumers looking for products that combine convenience and quality.
Hormel Slow Simmered Beef Roast Au Jus has been one of the standout performers in the category, Mr. Neufeldt said.
â€œWeâ€™re taking the preparation out and giving these consumers a high-quality meat, already slow-cooked, to deliver a great comfort food experience. As younger consumers get busier, theyâ€™re looking for these options that combine a great product in a convenient format.â€
Donâ€™t forget deli
Hormel has also seen new heat-and-eat applications in its Deli Solutions Group, said Andrew Quinn, the groupâ€™s senior brand manager.
â€œWeâ€™ve seen solid growth in our products that help retail partners transition from raw to fully cooked items,â€ he said. â€œThe items like our newÂ Hormel Carvers ClubÂ andÂ Hormel Cuisine Crate products help solve the pain points of labor, food and team member safety and make preparing heat and eat options less labor intensive.â€
Carverâ€™s Club and Cuisine Crate products include a starch, protein and sauce, and Hormel is offering retailers new flavor profiles and meal options to put either in a in a tray or other application to serve their consumers, said Jeff Baker, group vice president of the Deli Solutions Group.
â€œWeâ€™ve continued to innovate and develop new products to help customers solve for labor and shrink issues in the deli while assuring the highest levels of food safety, and that is not changing,â€ he said.
With the coronavirus, people are looking for alternate meal solutions, and heat-and-eat products sold at grocery retail are a perfect choice, Mr. Quinn said.
Mr. Neufeldt added that people eating at home more are looking for quick, convenient meals like those provided by Hormel, with Lloydâ€™s products leading the way.
â€œSince people may not be able to go to their favorite barbecue restaurant as easily anymore, we have high quality options that take the prep work out and still provide the restaurant-type experience in the comfort of home,â€ he said.
Hot bars, salad bars and other â€œhigh touchâ€ areas of the grocery perimeter have been seriously affected by the pandemic, Mr. Quinn said.
Hormel and other providers of heat-and-eat products are helping retailers get creative, in Hormelâ€™s case offering solutions that can be pre-packaged as â€œno touch,â€ which aligns with the expectations of deli customers, he said.