LOS ANGELES -- Center Store products should play a stronger role in meal solutions, according to exhibits and speakers at the Food Marketing Institute's MealSolutions show.
Though the conference, held here Sept. 14 to 16, concentrated on home-meal replacement programs involving perishables, retailer and manufacturer attendees also offered Center Store options.
At the opening session, Jim Reynolds, vice president of marketing at Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, discussed the benefits of Albertson's Quick Fixin's program, in which Center Store ingredients and recipes are merchandised in one location.
Similarly, in a panel discussion called "Real World Meal Solutions: Global Perspectives," Linda Gassenheimer, executive director of food and public relations at Gardner's Markets, Miami, a member of Associated Grocers of Florida, Miami, stressed the importance of including the entire store in a meals program. Gardner's recently launched MealTime Magic, a meal solutions program that includes a variety of packaged goods.
Center Store products were also discussed in a seminar entitled "Branded Food Systems in the Supermarket." Christine Hartmann, business director of HMR at Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., spoke about how Campbell's is leveraging its brands to meet consumer needs.
Hartmann discussed Campbell's frozen restaurant soup line and a "Power Recipe" program, which features recipes designed take no more than four steps, six ingredients and 10 minutes to prepare. One of its most popular Power Recipes is under the Prego brand: Miracle Lasagna, which takes just five minutes to prepare.
The company is also expanding into the quick-meal segment. Under the Prego Brand, it will soon introduce a line of fully prepared frozen family entrees based on Campbell's food-service formulations, according to Hartmann.
One of the misperceptions that the industry had at last year's MealSolutions was that HMR market was only prepared foods, Michael Sansolo, senior vice president of the Washington-based FMI, said in the opening session.
"What we've discovered is that this area of meal solutions is more than that. It's not just prepared foods," Sansolo said.
On the show floor, several manufacturers offered various Center Store options. Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark., for instance, showcased "Sliced & Diced," a new co-branding program with Green Giant's Create a Meal. Sliced & Diced contains fully cooked chicken and beef items that complement Create a Meal vegetable and sauce blends. The line contains four varieties: chicken breast strips, Southwestern Chicken breast strips, diced chicken breast and seasoned beef strips. Each is available in a 9-ounce box that has a suggested retail of $3.99 and an 18-ounce resealable Value pack bag, $6.99.
Tyson also offers Restaurant Favorites, a line of restaurant-quality Mexican, Oriental, Italian and Southwestern entrees.
Also, Yoshida Food Products, Portland, Ore., offered its line of gourmet sauces, developed to complement meal solutions. Varieties include original gourmet, Hawaiian sweet & sour, classic red sweet & sour and peanut.
Yoshida sauces are also a component in a meal-solutions program by Sea Coast Foods, Seattle. Among Sea Coast's Chef's Choice frozen gourmet meal line are skillet dinners that include Yoshida sauces. The line also features Sun Up skillet breakfasts.
The kits -- which contain all the ingredients needed for a meal -- are available in 24-ounce stand-up gusset bags. Varieties include shrimp stir fry with oriental-style vegetables, teriyaki beef stir fry and all-white meat chicken stir fry with oriental-style vegetables. They sell at suggested retails of $4.99 to $5.99.