Frozen Food Filibuster Slated
Frozen Food Institute here is planning an inaugural event for tomorrow, serving member companies' frozen food products to members of Congress and key staffers at an evening reception. The purpose is to build relationships and to make sure that the elected representatives realize frozen food is more than just TV dinners.
"It's an opportunity for members of Congress who have frozen food companies in their states to come and meet those who head up the company or hold top positions, to establish that relationship, so that when something comes up, they have a name and a face to associate with the issue," explained Michelle Trowbridge, vice president of communications for AFFI.
The reception will be held in the Cannon Caucus Room, the largest room in Congress, and it is hoped that some members of Congress will don chef's toques and help dish out the food. There are a number of ongoing issues concerning AFFI, such as country of origin labeling and biotech labeling and ergonomics, on which AFFI President Leslie Sarasin recently testified before the House Labor Committee.
"This is a different, and a very important, audience. These are the people who make the decisions that directly impact the bottom line of our members' companies," Trowbridge said.
The co-chairs for the event are Rep. Butch Otterp (R-Idaho), and Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.).
Heinz Acquires Delimex
PITTSBURGH -- The H.J. Heinz Co. here has acquired Delimex Holdings, a leading maker of frozen Mexican foods, from Fenway Partners, a New York-based private investment firm. Delimex, based in San Diego, Calif., will operate as a unit of the Heinz Frozen Food Co. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
With sales of more than $150 million last year, Delimex supplies high-quality frozen Mexican foods to supermarkets and warehouse clubs nationally. The company's sales growth has averaged more than 20% annually since 1993.
Delimex is the leading U.S. producer of frozen taquitos, tightly rolled fried corn or flour tortillas with fillings such as beef, chicken or cheese. It also makes quesadillas, tamales and rice bowls. Delimex has production facilities in San Diego and Monterrey, Mexico, and has approximately 800 employees.
"Handheld Mexican foods are especially appealing to teens and tweens, kids between the ages of 9 to 14," noted John Carroll, managing director, potato and snacks, at Heinz Frozen Food Co. "Heinz expects to increase consumption of Delimex products by focusing our marketing efforts on reaching these key consumers."
Consumers under 18 now account for about 30% of Mexican food consumption in the U. S.
Nestle Builds Plant in Arkansas
SOLON, Ohio -- Nestle USA here has announced its decision to invest $165 million to design and build a new frozen foods manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Ark., where it will make varieties of Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine frozen prepared meals. The plant is scheduled to open by mid-2003, said Roz O'Hearn, director, division and brand affairs, Nestle USA.
This is Nestle's fourth frozen food plant in the U. S. They are located here, in Gaffney, S.C., and in Springville, Utah. The Jonesboro plant will create 1,000 new jobs for Nestle. The new plant will start out at 325,000 square feet, and will be connected to a dedicated warehouse being built by Nestle's partner, Millard Refrigerated Services, Omaha, Neb.
Millard will provide Nestle with distribution and a 200,000-square-foot logistics warehouse, which Nestle plans to use for both incoming ingredients and finished product.
Pierre's Frozen Custard at Retail
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Pierre's French Ice Cream Co. here has launched a seven-flavor line, Pierre's Authentic Frozen Custard, in colorful pint packaging.
With names like Classic Vanilla Thriller, Carousel Chocolate, Boardwalk Butter Pecan, Midway Cherry Arcade, Main Street Peanut Brittle, Fun House Fudge Brownie and Amazing Waffle Cone Scrambler, the line is targeting consumers who have fond memories of vacations at the beach. The company believes younger consumers will discover frozen custard for the first time "and love it for its uniqueness to the ice cream dessert category."
Frozen custard is considered a premium ice cream product. It contains a higher level of butterfat and a touch of pasteurized egg yolk.
Americans Eat Ice Cream Often
CHICAGO -- More than half of all Americans eat ice cream at least once a week, according to Mintel Consumer Intelligence here. In its publication "The Market for Ice Cream," only 6% of respondents said they never eat ice cream. While 51% eat it at least once a week, only 14% do so once a month. The mean number of times per week that ice cream is consumed is 2.2 times, which suggests that ice cream is a truly popular dessert or snack option. The survey of more than 1,000 adults was done June 29 to July 1 by a firm commissioned by Mintel.
Two-thirds of respondents are guilt-free in their ice cream enjoyment, not worrying about calories or fat. Almost one-third of those surveyed are concerned about fat and calorie content of ice cream, although researchers found that is not necessarily a deterrent to consumption. Older respondents were more likely to express concern about the fat and calorie content. Older adults are also more likely to purchase low-fat ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Higher-income respondents may be better-versed in health and wellness issues and may be wary of ice cream's calories and fat, Mintel said. "They very well may be consuming high-fat ice cream, but they are more likely to strike a balance between this fat treat and other low-fat options," Mintel said.
Gorton's New Low Fat Grilled Fillets
GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- Gorton's here has introduced its new and improved Low Fat Grilled Fillets, containing 3 grams of fat per serving, a reduction from the traditional 4.5 grams of fat per serving. They are available in Lemon Pepper, Garlic Butter, Lemon Butter, Cajun Blackened, Classic Char-Grilled, Italian Herb and Caesar Parmesan. Each package contains two individually wrapped servings. The Low Fat Grilled Fillets have a suggested retail price of $2.99 per package.
Ajinomoto Expands Rice Bowl Line
PARAMUS, N.J. -- Ajinomoto U.S.A. here has launched a Japanese-style frozen entree, Chinese Seafood Don (Seafood Chop Suey Over Fried Rice). The new entree, which was introduced in May, is the fifth in the company's "Don" series of frozen rice-bowl dishes, following the Chicken Teriyaki Don, Sukiyaki Don, and Gyu Don (sliced beef and onion over rice) meals introduced in 1998 and Chicken Curry Don earlier this year.
The Chinese Seafood Don entree consists of Cantonese-style seasoned seafood and vegetables over fried rice. According to Satoshi Inamori, associate director for Ajinomoto Frozen Foods U.S.A., "Rice bowl meals, known as 'don' in Japanese, have always been a part of the Japanese culinary landscape. We are happy to see growing interest in this category in the United States."
Chinese Seafood Don comes in a 15.5-ounce serving size and is now available nationwide at a suggested retail price of $3.99 per unit.
Bento Cross-Cultural Partnership
FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- Japanese-owned NRE World Bento here has launched its organic O-Bento line of products for sale in the U. S. and export to Japan, using California suppliers of organic and natural foods. Lundberg Family Farms, Richvale, Calif., is the minority partner in this venture.
Traditional bento are single-serving, Japanese meals that typically include rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood attractively packaged in bowls or compartmentalized containers within decorative boxes.
Widely viewed as the Japanese equivalent of Western fast food meals, 6 million bento are sold daily in Japan at convenience stores, supermarkets, railway dining cars, office lunchrooms, sports stadiums and other locations. In Japan, bento come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavor combinations.
The U.S. O-Bento line currently features four types of ready-made meals: Sukiyaki Beef, Teriyaki Chicken, Mixed Seafood and Vegetarian. The main ingredients for the O-Bento line will be supplied by California suppliers including Lundberg Family Farms, which provides certified organic rice; Pacific Pre-Cut in Tracy, certified organic and natural vegetables; Petaluma Poultry, Petaluma, natural chicken; and Vintage Meats in Los Angeles, natural beef. The company will use only natural, non-farm Pacific salmon and other seafood from a variety of sources.
NRE World Bento was established in 1999 to produce and sell frozen and extended shelf-life bento-style entrees. They are manufactured in a new 26,500-square-foot facility in this northern California city.