Pound of Ground Crumbles frozen uncooked ground beef is an innovative solution to the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” Created by Heidi Meyer and her husband, Jeff, the 100% natural ground beef cooks from frozen in under 10 minutes with no thawing necessary.
Pound of Ground Crumbles recently conducted a survey of parents of school-age children that found 75% of respondents frequently forget to defrost meat in time for meals. The brand is in the midst of a “Return to Routine” campaign as it looks to expand its distribution and product lineup.
Now a part of JBS USA, in under two years Pound of Ground Crumbles has gone from an initial test launch in 250 stores to distribution in thousands of stores nationwide. Found in the frozen section of retail grocers, it comes in three varieties – Original 80/20, Hearty-Sized Pieces 80/20 and Original with Onion.
What inspired you to develop Pound of Ground Crumbles?
As a busy parent, I found that I was scrambling week-after-week to get dinner on the table. My husband, Jeff, and I would get to 5 p.m. during the week, look at each other and say, “What’s for dinner?” It feels like such a silly thing – we know that dinner will happen every day, and yet, we had the same discussion each time. When it came to dinner time, all we wanted was something quick, easy and, frankly, that was a no-brainer. Of course, we also inevitably forgot to take meat out of the freezer to defrost. That was one of the biggest limitations for me – I wanted to have the essential protein part of the meal ready at a moment’s notice, but I felt like the food industry didn’t have the solution I needed. That was the “ah-ha” moment. There had to be a better way to have family-favorite ground beef available whenever I needed it.
So, Jeff and I sat down – or rather paced and brainstormed for many months – to come up with a solution. We both have long careers in brand management and innovation, particularly in the food industry. After much discussion and market research, we put our product innovation hats on to develop what now is known as Pound of Ground Crumbles frozen uncooked ground beef.
It’s still a bit surreal that Pound of Ground Crumbles is out there and being shared with families, parents and anyone who may have busy schedules that still want wholesome dinners ready in a pinch. Partnering with JBS Foods USA has helped us expand our reach and distribution. It’s exhilarating to see how in just the last 20 months, Pound of Ground Crumbles has gone from an initial test launch in 250 stores to distribution in thousands of stores nationwide.
How was the Return to Routine survey conducted and why was consumer research important for Pound of Ground?
Jeff and I love data. I mean, we really love data. It’s amazing how we’ll both light up when we can dig into concrete numbers. As a data-driven team, we knew we wanted to lead with research when developing Pound of Ground Crumbles, and we are continually searching for new studies and insights to give us a deeper understanding of our consumers. Ultimately, we want to solve problems. For us, research is what fuels our new ideas.
With this most recent survey, we set out to get a pulse on the current mealtime habits and challenges for parents and families across the country. Conducted by OnePoll, the survey fielded 2,000 U.S. parents with school-aged children, as they returned to their routines for the academic year. Our findings put the need for convenient cooking at the forefront, with 36% stating that missing ingredients is the biggest hurdle they experience when preparing dinner, and 33% noting that waiting for meat to thaw is their greatest challenge. Many survey respondents are leaning on pantry staples to simplify their meal plans and preparations.
The survey reinforces the clear opportunity in the marketplace to flip what a “pantry staple” means on its head. By extending the definition beyond the traditional sense of the pantry to the freezer, parents and caregivers are introduced to a wider array of dinner solutions that can still help them feel good about what they’re serving the whole family.
Pound of Ground Crumbles offers that solution, disrupting the way we think about both pantry staples and frozen meat products. It’s 100% natural, minimally processed ground beef with no artificial ingredients, that’s quick frozen into crumbled pieces, rather than in a brick or block. This makes it a true freezer staple, as it pours right into the pan from frozen and cooks in less than 10 minutes – no defrosting, no thawing and no planning ahead necessary.
What was the most significant takeaway from the survey? Were there any answers that surprised you?
Perhaps the most surprising survey finding is that Sunday is no longer leading the pack for the most likely day that families have dinner together. Tuesdays (50%) and Wednesdays (51%) have taken this title. Ironically, these days are also when survey respondents are most likely to not have a plan (46% and 44%, respectively). While families may want to eat together at the beginning of the work and school week, it’s also the most challenging time to get dinner on the table, whether that’s due to after school activities or busier than expected days. To me, this is incredibly telling and magnifies the need for dinner solutions every night of the week, not just when groceries might run a bit lower towards the end of the week.
Interestingly, many of the survey respondents consider themselves planners. In fact, two in three think they’re planners and 63% state they decide what they will serve for dinner before the day of. However, the same results show that three in four parents are likely to sometimes forget to take meat out of the freezer, with nearly 50% stating they do so frequently. This juxtaposition of well-intended mealtime preparation with the likelihood of forgetting to thaw meat is certainly one many people face, and one that I faced myself before I set out to create a better option.
What is the Return to Routine campaign, and how are you marketing your product to shoppers?
We find that returning to routine is a time when people turn back to the structure of work, school and extracurricular activities. It’s also when families are cooking more dinners at home, despite busy routines. For our family, the fall months are certainly a structured time, but it’s also a bit demanding with all the hustle and bustle going from one place to the next. The added pressure of figuring out what’s for dinner is the last thing I want to think about after a long day. During the midst of all of this, we know that parents and caregivers are looking for ways to make a meal that’s nutritious, delicious and accessible.
On top of that, the survey results found that this “return-to-routine” phenomenon tends to occur twice a year – once at the start of the schoolyear and again at the start of the new year. Intriguingly, survey respondents noted that they feel that January (28%), February (33%) and March (28%) are the top three busiest or most challenging months of the year for their families.
We’re leveraging this seasonality of busy schedules coupled with cooking more at home for our “Return-to-Routine” campaign. Our goal is to bring heightened awareness of Pound of Ground Crumbles, and why it’s a game-changer for when dinner plans have been left to the last minute and that frozen brick of meat is still in the freezer. We’re supporting our retail partners with a mix of in-store and social media tactics designed to raise awareness and generate sales.
We’re focusing our retail support on tactics that elicit consumer trial of Pound of Ground Crumbles. For example, we’re combining in-store awareness elements like shelf talk with robust coupon-to-card and Instacart support to encourage trial. We’re also embracing social media, particularly TikTok, to reach our audience. We recently challenged our followers to show us how they “Kick the Brick” and are using Pound of Ground Crumbles to make busy mealtimes easier.
What’s on the horizon for Pound of Ground?
As illustrated by these survey findings, there continues to be a need for offerings that can make dinnertime easy, even during the busiest of seasons. I’m particularly curious where we can help meet different families’ needs, while also finding a sweet spot between convenience and optionality. We’ve certainly struck that balance with our three varieties of Pound of Ground Crumbles – Original 80/20, Hearty-Sized Pieces 80/20 and Original with Onion – giving people the flexibility between different sized crumbles, as well as providing the additional convenience of already chopped onions. In the near future, we have plans to expand our Pound of Ground Crumbles line to include a grass-fed option.
I laugh sometimes at Jeff because we’re brimming with ideas to expand the Pound of Ground product line. We’re continuously motivated by finding ways to solve the problem for having “meat-at-the-ready” and providing new offerings that can tailor to different consumer demands and lifestyles. We’re eager for what’s next, and our innovation pipeline is centered on bringing more options to provide people with the tools they need to get homecooked meals on the table when there’s no plans for dinner and no time to defrost meat.
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