The shelf-stable meals category was virtually nonexistent at Associated Food Stores a few years ago. “We were down to about four SKUs of Chef Boyardee microwavable cups,” said Nate Laver, category manager at the Salt Lake City distributor to about 600 food retailers. All that changed when the economy plummeted, and consumers consequently started brown bagging and eating at home more. Those in the workforce became increasingly interested in portable meals that can be prepared in minutes, ...

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