Since the ancient Greeks gobbled grapes, seafood and wine while donning togas and sandals, food and fashion have shared a complementary relationship. Yet, today the typical refrigerated and frozen food processor doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time, energy or marketing dollars exploring the partnership.
Lifestyle Foods, York, Pa., is one notable exception. Visit the refrigerated salad and snack company’s Web site and this quickly becomes clear.
“We really wanted to benchmark our image more on the lines of fashion than food,” says President and CEO Jason Bross. “We wanted to create a sense of style to the Web site, as well as make the viewer connect with our company.”
Lifestyle takes the fashion-food pairing so far that its 20 employees are known as “trendsetters” and each of its grab-and-go salads and snacks come with style, nutrition and exercise tips printed on the packaging. The four-year-old company’s Web site features lounge music, beautiful people having fun and a tagline: “Look Sharp, Live Smart, Lifestyle Foods.” Meanwhile, products are given names such as “Manhattan” - a carrot, pita, hummus and cheese snack - and “Hollywood” - honey wheat pretzels, apples, grapes and white cheddar cheese.
It’s only fitting that Bross, also the company founder, got inspiration from what is arguably the fashion center of the world.
“After traveling to Europe, I saw the amount of space dedicated to the chilled, packed items and really didn’t see that same emphasis here in the U.S.,” he says. “The biggest difference that intrigued me was the customized packaging and technology. I always felt this category would evolve the same way.”
Drawing upon this experience and a later trip to Australia where he noted innovative salads, Bross founded Lifestyle Foods in 2005.
Today, the company offers six salads and five snacks all with a healthy, grab-and-go focus. Each salad is fewer than 400 calories and three of the snacks are fewer then 200 calories. All products are single-serve and two are high in protein.
The snacks’ health benefits and grab-and-go convenience appeal to a couple key demographics.
Bross explains, “Our demographic is primarily professionals who are health conscious, working long hours and often are traveling. Also, another key demographic is very active parents that are looking for a snack for themselves or their kids.
Our experience is that the marketplace is looking for items that are easier to transport and consume. Offering healthy items makes sense to us. We feel this is what our customers want and there will continue to be an increasing demand for more options.”
Lifestyle concentrates its distribution in places where their “on-the-go” consumers are likely to be found: convenience stores, hotels, airports, colleges, hospitals, gyms and supermarkets. Bross adds that the snack and salad packaging has been carefully designed to suit this demographic as well.
“We designed all of our own packaging,” he says. “We put tremendous effort into the labeling of the product itself and making the design trendy.”
In addition, each salad and snack component is contained inside its own barrier within each package. Bross says this separation of components allows consumers to choose which ones to eat and how, and helps to keep the ingredients fresh and safe.
“Food safety is our first priority. Lifestyle Foods is an USDA/FDA approved facility and utilizes a full HACCP plan,” he says. “All of the produce used by Lifestyle Foods has been cleaned and sanitized to lower naturally occurring bacteria. Temperature control is another key factor. All ingredients are maintained at 40
Who are they?Lifestyle Foods
Location: York, Pa.
Execs: Jason Bross, president and CEO; Ramon H. Lopez Jr., COO; Pradeep Jaipaul, CFO
Products: Refrigerated grab-and-go snacks and salads featuring vegetables, fruits, dips, poultry and more.
Channels: Retail, foodservice, co-pack