Target Corp.'s Archer Farms Edamame Steam-in-the-Bag vegetables benefit from two trends dominating food-retailing: health and convenience.
For one, edamame fit perfectly with consumers' growing health and wellness concerns. Meaning "beans on branches," edamame are young, green soybeans that are harvested at the peak of ripening.
Edamame have been used for about 2,000 years as a major source of protein in East Asia. In the United States, edamame once were found only at health food stores. The growing popularity of the product has made it a common frozen-food item at supermarkets and other food retailers.
Target's edamame, which cost $1.99 for a 1-pound bag, are as convenient as they are healthy. The boil-in-the-bag feature reduces the preparation time.
Judges praised the edamame's taste and easy preparation and noted that it was surprising to see such a product come not from a specialty or health food retailer but a mass merchandiser.
Conor Cunneen, president of a food-service consulting firm, declared it "the most impressive product" he tasted during the judging process.
"It is a genuinely new product to most people," he said. "I think it's got potential to be significant, major side dish for many meals."