Processors raise the bar to provide the best of the best for retail consumers.

What does it take to reign as champion of the refrigerated and frozen foods market? Perhaps a gold medal, maybe two, or maybe even just the chance to compete is good enough.

Whatever the goal, many of today’s refrigerated and frozen foods processors are raising the bar in all facets of their business-new product introductions, packaging initiatives and creative marketing campaigns-to become champions of their category.

During the recession, retailers continue to stay in the race by bulking up their shelves with better-for-you products. However, the coupon craze forced several big-boxers to revamp their discount rules, thus creating an intense competition among food manufacturers.

Whatever the obstacle though, today’s refrigerated and frozen food makers are in position to take on any challenge head on.

Men steal the show

Gone are the days when women ruled the grocery aisles. According to a survey conducted by Cone Communications, “dad is king of the aisle.” In fact, one-third of moms surveyed say that more than half of dads collect coupons and plan the week’s meals in advance.

The survey, titled “2012 Cone Communications Year of the Dad Trend Tracker,” showcases the men as having more influence on the grocery shopping-63% create a detailed shopping list (vs. 65% of moms), 56% collect coupons (vs. 62% of moms), 52% plan meals for the week ahead of time (vs. 46% of moms) and 24% research products before hitting the aisles (vs. 11% of moms).

“This research goes against all stereotypes of the ‘father knows best’ dad who doesn’t concern himself with domestic responsibilities,” says Bill Fleishman, president of Boston-based Cone Communications. “Marketers need to recognize the growing number of dads in the supermarket aisles who are taking their roles seriously and can benefit from brands who provide tools and shortcuts to make shopping easier.”

Keeping up with the balancing act

Food manufacturers must also keep up with the balancing act in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.

“As we think about emerging trends, we know consumers are constantly seeking new ways to create quick and great-tasting meal solutions that are easy to assemble and are quick to clean up,” says Val Zanchettin, director of marketing for the Ball Park brand, owned by Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill.

Likewise, there’s an increased demand for healthy, sustainable products that are delivered in a convenient fashion, says Jonas Vesterberg, chief operating officer for Taste of Norway, Inc., Philadelphia.

Regardless of the trends, it’s time to see who’s a true contender in the race to win over the ultimate grocery shopper.

Retail Bakery Products: Heating up the Games

Rain or shine, sun or snow, these bakers kick up the competition a notch with a slew of new products.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

It’s not everyday that consumers can dive into a cold treat in the middle of winter. But for those fans in search of a little excitement, look no further than their local grocery’s freezercase.

“For some consumers, considering the frozen dessert category tends to happen during the winter holiday season,” says Kanika White, senior brand manager for Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill. “However, our desserts, such as our new Sara Lee Pound Cake Slices, are convenient for everyday occasions any time of the year.”

Sara Lee Pound Cake Slices are individually-wrapped pound cake slices that deliver 160 calories per slice (Original) and 180 for the Double Chocolate kind.

Meanwhile, Wholly Wholesome, the Chester, N.J.-based producer of all-natural and organic baked goods, added a gluten-free pie shell option to its family of better-for-you products. The 9-inch pie shells come two per 14-ounce package, and are kosher, vegan and dairy-free.

“Our new pie shells hold true to our belief that one should not have to sacrifice taste for ingredients,” says Doon Wintz, president. “We’ve been hungry to enter the gluten-free world for a long time, but we wanted to pace ourselves and ensure we had the right product with the right standards.”

T. Marzetti Co., Columbus, Ohio, expanded its New York Brand lineup of frozen dinners and entrees to include Hand-Tied Garlic Knots, which are par-baked rolls that are ready to eat in 4-5 minutes.

ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb., pays attention to current news and trends in order to give consumers what they want.

“Marie Callender’s introduced Peanut Butter Cream Pie in 2012 as the newest flavor to its cream pies line. The pie is made with real peanut butter and a chocolate cookie crumb crust, making it a delicious fit for any night of the week or special occasion,” says Doug Knudsen, president of sales, consumer foods.

Fans don’t have to brave extremities to soak in some excitement. Just a little frozen baked good will do. 

Retail Breakfast Entrees: Bringing Their A-Game

Makers of breakfast entrees tear down traditional nuancesto deliver one-of-a-kind offerings.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

It used to be that breakfast was an all-time-consuming event. Prep it, cook it and eat it while reading the newspaper or watching the news. That was how breakfast was done.

Now, consumers barely have time to scrape together a few pieces of bread, let alone eat breakfast at their leisure.

That’s why refrigerated and frozen foods developers are bringing their A-game to the breakfast aisle by delivering customer-convenient, on-the-go options.

For instance, San Francisco-based La Terra Fina introduced Quiche Lorraine. Made with all-natural egg whites, real bacon and Swiss cheese, this tart originates from Lorraine, a region of Northeastern France, and is available in Spinach & Artichoke and Cheddar & Broccoli.

“We believe our customers are going to love the added fresh ingredients and natural flavors of the new quiches,” says Tim Ramsey, general manager and COO.

Cedarlane Natural Foods, the Carson, Calif.-based maker of Frankly Fresh frozen entrees, created gluten-free Egg White Frittatas for its CedarLean line. Each entree is made with a scalloped potato crust. They come in Broccoli & Cheddar, Roasted Chile & Cheese and Spinach & Roasted Tomato varieties.

“The CedarLEAN Egg White Frittata line offers a harmonious balance of high protein, low sodium, high fiber, low cholesterol, 200 calories or less and never more than 4 grams of saturated fat per serving,” says Matthew Gillespie, director of trade and sales planning.

Crystal Farms, Minnetonka, Minn., expanded its Simply Potatoes line to include flavored cut potatoes, such as O’Brien Hash Browns, Garlic and Herb Hash Browns and Steakhouse Diced Potatoes.

“On our potato business, the biggest challenge is to continue to provide consumers with products that add value in a somewhat luxury category,” says John Crawford, senior director of marketing.

Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark., introduced mini breakfast bread bowls, available in Egg Bacon and Cheese. Made with 100% all white meat Tyson chicken, savory cheese and bakery fresh bread, these easy-to-prepare meals go from the freezer to the microwave to the plate in just minutes.

Gone are the days of sit-down breakfasts. Today’s consumers enjoy the most important meal of the day on-the-go, thanks to a host of high-achieving options.

Retail Dairy: Eye on the Prize

No challenge goes unmet for today’s dairy processors.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

Yogurt isn’t the plain old yogurt it used to be. Today, it’s Greek, strained and all-natural and comes equipped with “fighting” ingredients, such as probiotics, live cultures and a slew of colorful flavors.

That’s why dairy processors continue to keep their eyes on the prize.

“Hands down, in the dairy case, Greek yogurt is the hottest consumer trend in decades,” says Ernesto Echeverri, director of business development for Alpina Foods. “Consumers are turning to Greek yogurt as a meal replacement, instead of sandwiches or heavier fare such as soups and salads, according to Spire Research [and Consulting, a research consulting firm based in San Bruno, Calif.]”

In response to this growing trend, the Miami-based processor introduced Revive Greek yogurt, which combines no-fat Greek yogurt with all-natural granola mix-ins. Available in Plain, Blueberry, Honey and Mango, each pack delivers 15 grams of protein per cup.

Meanwhile, Alpina’s Restart yogurt, available in Plain, Strawberry, Vanilla and Peach, outweighs the competition because it’s paired with certified gluten-free granola produced by Udi’s Gluten Free Foods, Denver, division of Smart Balance, Inc., Paramus, N.J. Restart yogurt contains 13 grams of protein and just 160 calories.

“Like world-class athletes, dairy processors need to maximize speed (speed to market, speed in responding to consumer demands, etc.) while maintaining focus,” Echeverri adds.

To stand apart from the competition, Olympus Dairy USA Corp., Little Ferry, N.J., introduced new flavors-Blueberry, Vanilla, Lemon and Honey-to its Greek yogurt lineup.

In the frozen category, Dairy Enterprises, Inc. introduced Ruggles Lowfat Greek yogurt, available in Strawberry, Blueberry, Peach, Vanilla Bean, Original Tart and Honey flavors in pints and 4-ounce single-serve cups.

“Refrigerated Greek yogurt has been one of the most exciting trends in the retail food marketplace in years. Why not bring that concept to the frozen category?” asks Penny Baker, director of marketing for the Orrville, Ohio, company.

Slicing and shredding the competition

Big and bold flavors are what’s on-trend in the cheese business, according to John Crawford, senior director of marketing for Crystal Farms.

In response, the Minnetonka, Minn., company showcased a line of mild (Roasted Red Pepper Jack), medium (Pepper Jack) and hot (Jalapeño & Habanero Jack) pepper jack cheeses.

“All three flavors contain head indicators (like you see on salsa), and are offered in both chunk and deli slices,” Crawford adds.

Meanwhile, DCI Cheese Co., Richfield, Wis., launched an assortment of new products, including Salemville Smokehaus Blue, Salemville Reserve, Nikos fetas, Landana Red Pesto, Alexis de Portneuf Bleubry, Alexis de Portneuf Saint-Honoré, Alexis de Portneuf Snow Goat’s Triple Cream Brie and DuVillage 1860 Sir Laurier d’Arthabaska.

No challenge goes unmet without keeping an eye on the prize.

Retail Dips & Spreads: Flexing their Innovative Strengths

Whichever way consumers dip it or spread it, processors continue to deliver dynamic options in the refrigerated aisles.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

All it takes is one innovative product to jumpstart a category. However, for the dips and spreads category, several new items have entered the marketplace.

“Endurance and flexibility are key attributes when competing in a world class marketplace like the refrigerated foods industry,” says Tim Ramsey, chief operating officer and general manager of La Terra Fina USA. “It takes endurance to withstand the pressures of competition and an aggressive business environment.”

In response, the Union City, Calif., company took Greek yogurt to the next level with Classic Greek yogurt dips, which come in Creamy Spinach & Bacon and Caramelized Onion.

Their Greek Yogurt Salata dips feature plain Greek yogurt with crisp, chunky vegetables. They come in Kalamata Olives and Spinach and Balsamic Beet & White Bean varieties.

Their Creamy Greek yogurt vegetable dips are a fusion of herbs, summer vegetables and Greek yogurt, available in Roasted Yellow Pepper & Lentil and Red Lentil Curry.

According to the folks at Fresherized Foods, avocado has arrived. As a result, the Saginaw, Texas, producer introduced Wholly Guacamole Snack Packs. These 100-calroie, 2-ounce snack packs come in Classic and Spicy flavors and are designed to be used as a spread for turkey sandwiches, chicken salad (replacing mayonnaise) and more.

“Wholly Guacamole is like a rowing team-steady, powerful and passionate,” says Jennifer Sawyer, marketing manager. “Meeting consumer and retail needs is a great challenge and privilege. The weather might change, the competition is fierce, but we are working together and focused on the gold.”

Under its Wholly Salsa brand comes new flavors- Avocado Verde, Pineapple, Red Pepper Mango, Roasted Tomato and Guacamole with Spicy Pico. These all-natural “sauces” are ideal for fish, chicken and pasta.

Also bettering the category is Northbrook, Ill.-based butter processor Twisted Foods.

“Twisted Butters were developed to meet [ease and convenience] trends with all-natural compound butters, moderately priced and available in grocers’ mainstream butter case,” says David Milazzo, co-founder.

New flavors include Blueberry, Honey & Lemon Zest; Cinnamon, Honey & Brown Sugar; Cilantro & Lime; Chives & Parsley; Portobello Mushroom with Boursin-Garlic & Fine Herb Cheese; and Bacon, Dijon Mustard & Green Onion.

“Innovation is critical to success,” says Penny Baker, director of marketing for Dairy Enterprises Inc. “It is important to keep developing new flavors and new products to meet consumer needs.”

That’s why the Orrville, Ohio, owner of the Smith’s brand introduced all-natural sour cream. Available in a 16-ounce container, this full-bodied-texture option is made with just two ingredients-milk and cream.

Whichever way consumers dip it or spread it, processors continue to flex their innovative strengths to deliver dynamic options in the refrigerated aisles.

Retail Fruit & Vegetables: Symbol of Health

Producers of frozen fruits and vegetables deliver healthier better-for-you options.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

Recent reports show that 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and only 6% of children and teens in America will eat the recommended amount of vegetables, according to Alan Creveling, brand manager for Birds Eye vegetables.

“For these reasons, consumers are increasingly concerned with maintaining healthy lifestyles and combating these challenges by turning to healthier foods,” he adds.

That’s why Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC, the Parsipanny, N.J., producer of Birds Eye vegetables, sharpened its lineup of products to include Birds Eye Steamfresh products. These quick, go-to options are “perfectly suited to get kids in the kitchen because no knives or hot stoves are required,” Creveling notes. “Additionally, Birds Eye is committing to product innovation as part of the GenVeg campaign by researching the development of two kid-created products, each of which will meet 2010 Dietary Guidelines [of Americans].”

As part of its three-year effort to empower the inclusion of vegetables, the GenVeg marketing campaign speaks directly to kids in the voices of kids.

“Through a partnership with Nickelodeon’s popular ‘iCarly’ show and by tapping one of America’s most well-known child stars as campaign ambassador, at least one-third of the GenVeg television messages will reach women age 26-54 with children between ages 6-11 and a household income of $30,000 or less.”

Birds Eye also teamed up with Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to “ensure that eating healthier is more accessible, affordable and tasty to prompt kids to learn how to love their veggies,” Creveling adds.

Staying on course

Aside from America’s obesity problem, producers of frozen fruits and vegetables must stay on course to cater to today’s ever-changing society.

“To ‘go for the gold,’ [manufacturers] need to offer tasty yet healthy products with a focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consumers want healthier foods, but they won’t sacrifice taste. The absence of negative ingredients will continue to be important, including lower sodium, less saturated and trans-fat,” says Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO for Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), Hockessin, Del.

Other emerging trends, Pivonka says, are convenience and easy-to-use options, including single-serve packages; pre-sliced, fresh cut fruit and vegetables with other components such as peanut butter, salad dressing or a variety of sauces; steamable and microwavable packaging; and full-frozen skillet meals.

Processors can also “score” big by utilizing more herbs and spices to provide additional flavor with less sodium.

“The trend toward partially-prepared packaged foods is the right direction, both for in-home use and to reduce restaurant labor,” Pivonka notes. “A packaged food with few ingredients that consumers understand, however, is important now and for the foreseeable future. Even packaging materials and graphics are important to convey naturalness; consider background on growers or producers on package.”

Producers aim to change the outcome of the race by presenting healthier options for the every consumer.

Retail Meals & Entrees: Rings of Fire

Refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers turn up the heatthanks to a slew of top-notch new products.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

For refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers, going for the gold takes a team of new products that feature high-quality ingredients and unique flavor options.

Developed by Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC, Parsippany, N.J., the Birds Eye Voila! brand now includes Sweet and Sour Chicken and Cheesy Ranch Chicken varieties, both of which can be completed in just 10 minutes, says Kristen Thompson, senior brand manager.

Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif., expanded its El Monterey line to include family-pack burrito bags, which can be accompanied by rice, beans, fresh fruit or a salad, and family-pack snack bags, which feature mini chimis, quesadillas, taquitos and tamales in a reclosable, freezer-friendly bag.

In March, Maristella’s Fine Foods, Boston, cooked up all-natural Classic Seafood Pot Pies, available in Haddock, shrimp and salmon.

New Orleans-based Zatarain’s launched four new frozen skillet Meals for Two-Blackened Chicken Alfredo, Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, Smothered Chicken and Rice and Beef and Mushroom Pasta.

Marvell Foods in Boca Raton, Fla., brings foodservice menu items to the retail freezercase with Lovella Cuisine. Made with high-quality ingredients, this team of custom cuisines entails chicken and beef meatballs, cheese tortellini and mini ravioli.

In January, Tyson Foods introduced mini bread bowls, available in Chicken Broccoli Cheese and Chicken Bacon Club.

Turn up the heat and let the games begin.

Retail Meat, Poultry & Seafood: Raising the Bar

Refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers bulk up their product portfolios with lower-sodium, healthier alternatives.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

Regardless of the sport, athletes are trained to continuously raise the bar-throw farther, run faster, jump higher. Similarly, the meat, poultry and seafood category has bulked up, thanks to a slew of new product introductions that put health-conscious consumers to the test.

To cater to its lower-sodium fans, The John Morrell Food Group uses a patented, all-natural sodium replacer that lowers sodium by 50% in a variety of its products, including Armour pepperoni, John Morrell bacon and Margherita, deli bulk pepperoni and Genoa salami.

To cater to its bacon-loving followers, the Cincinnati-based company launched a line of Eckrich Bacon Lovers Deli Meats, with each of the five products covered in bacon or infused with bacon, according to Chuck Gitkin, vice president of marketing, innovation and R&D.

“In the health and wellness space, we have launched Active Packs, which is the first and only portable meal kit with sliced apples,” Gitkin adds.

Another better-for-you option is Oscar Mayer’s Selects, which are specially selected cuts of meat available in 12 varieties of hot dogs, cold cuts and bacon.

“Oscar Mayer believes in ‘raising the bar’ when it comes to providing products that exceed consumers’ expectations and are champions in the marketplace,” says Sydney Lindner, associate director of corporate affairs for the Oscar Mayer brand, which is owned by Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill.

West Liberty Foods, LLC, West Liberty, Iowa, practices ongoing efforts to reduce sodium through its newest release-Cracked Black Pepper turkey for private label, says Mark Russell, director of business development.

“To be a gold medal supplier, processors need to lead the pack with new and innovative items that anticipate consumer needs,” he adds. “Sprinting to the lead in the sustainability race will be important, as processors need to protect the environment while providing safe and healthy food offerings.”

While many manufacturers retooled their recipes to cut back on unnecessary ingredients, the folks at Sara Lee Corp. built up brand equity in its Ball Park brand to reinforce it as being “guy food.”

Entering the race is Ball Park Flame Grilled Patties.

“Burgers are considered a top guy food, and our Flame Grilled Patties are fully cooked and made with 100% beef, offering a juicy, convenient snack or meal ready in just about a minute from the microwave,” says Val Zanchettin, director of marketing for the Downers Grove, Ill., company.

Earlier this year, Hormel Foods introduced an enhanced line of Hormel Cure 81 hams, “which contain enhanced flavor, texture and appearance to provide a more contemporary product that will appeal to younger families, while also providing a familiar quality product for our core consumer,” says Steven Venenga, vice president of marketing, meat products for the Austin, Minn., company.

The 100% hand-crafted Hormel Cure 81 hams are 100% naturally hardwood smoked with added brown sugar and a knobbier, off-the-bone appearance.

Hormel also launched a line of Hormel Natural Choice chicken sausages, available in Jalapeno Cheddar, Apple Gouda and Asiago Spinach flavors.

SEA-ing its way to the finish line

Seafood manufacturers aim to keep it simple-deliver sustainable products in a healthy, yet convenient way. That’s why Taste of Norway, Inc. introduced “Straight in the Oven!,” premium Norwegian skinless and boneless salmon portions that come in an aluminum tray.

“The portions cook perfectly from frozen in 30 minutes and require no extra effort or handling by the consumer, other than turning on the oven,” says Jonas Vesterberg, chief operating officer for the Philadelphia-based processor.

Earlier this year, Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC, Parsippany, N.J., released Mrs. Paul’s and Van de Kamp’s ParchmentBake, a line of tilapia fillets that come in a sealed parchment pouch and bake in just under 25 minutes.

“In the seafood category, we have the opportunity to help consumers understand how to incorporate seafood into their diets more often and educate consumers about the healthy benefits of fish,” says Lisa Barrette, senior marketing director of seafood.

Whether it’s meat, poultry or seafood, today’s manufacturers continue to raise the bar by bringing fresh meal options to consumers’ plates.

Retail Pizza: Au Natural Contenders

Pizza manufacturers scrap the fancy techniques and go for the gold using all-natural ingredients.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

Regardless of the sport, athletes are trained to stretch, tone and build. Much like the professionals, today’s pizza offerings deliver similar results.

For example, in July, Annie’s, Inc. launched its first certified-organic rising crust pizza made with organic flour and tomatoes, topped with natural meats. They come in Uncured Pepperoni, Four Cheese, Spinach & Mushroom and Supreme varieties.

“Consumers love the ease and convenience of frozen pizza, but often feel guilty about serving traditional pizzas,” says Robyn DeFina, senior brand manager for the Berkeley, Calif., company. “By giving consumers a healthier alternative like Annie’s, consumers indicate that they would be willing to buy more pizzas a year driven by their ‘feel-better-about-serving’ attitude.”

Shoppers can dare to go bare with Frozen Naked pizza, jointly launched by New Orleans-based take-out and delivery franchise Naked Pizza and Denver-based entrepreneur Gay Burke, also the founder and CEO. Developed to outperform the competition, the crust is made with an Ancestral Blend of 10 grains and Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086, a probiotic bacteria. They come in Superbiotic, Uncured Pepperoni, Cheese and Chicken options.

“Prepared foods in most grocer store freezercases contain loads of junk-fried batters, extra sugars, high-sodium sauces, additives and preservatives,” says Burke. “We like our food ‘naked’ here, and we aim to revolutionize this section of the supermarket by providing a delicious pizza, free of freaky extras and loaded with nutritious ingredients to support a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, Udi’s Gluten Free Foods introduced a team of frozen pizzas in Pepperoni, Margherita and 3-Cheese flavors.

“Our goal is to create delicious, wholesome foods for all meals, so gluten-free customers have the same eating and shopping experience as others,” says Denise Sirovatka, vice president of marketing for the Denver-based division of Smart Balance, Inc., Paramus, N.J.

Shoppers can also get courageous with Bold Organics pizza, made with 85%-certified organic ingredients and a signature sauce, which is a blend of organic tomatoes, organic herbs and spices and an all-natural rice flour crust. The new team of pizzas includes Vegan Cheese, Veggie Lovers, Meat Lovers and Deluxe.

“If I can provide great-tasting, healthy, gluten-free foods to my restaurant customers, then why can’t I do it for retail customers nationwide?” asks chef Eric Brenner, co-owner of the New York-based producer.

Between the gooey cheese that stretches from plate to mouth, the firm bite of meat and vegetables or the stacks of better-for-you ingredients, today’s pizza offerings have what it takes to go for the gold.

Retail Snacks, Appetizers & Side Dishes: Perfect 10

To win the ultimate medal, refrigerated and frozen food processorsmust earn a perfect 10.

Marina Mayer, Editor-in-Chief

Busy moms rely on “on-the-go meals,” says Carolyn Rehbock, vice president of insights and innovations for Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark. “She needs something that’s not only easy to prepare, but also neatly transportable, in a flavor her kids love and in a flavor/form that she as an adult can enjoy when she is on-the-go with them.”

That’s why form, flavor and convenience are the winning components in creating the perfect snack, appetizer or side dish. As a result, Tyson Foods launched Whole Grain Chicken Breast Chunks and Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips, both made with 100% all-natural ingredients and all-white meat chicken. Plus, the breast chunks provide 8 grams of whole grains per serving, and the breast strips are made with 65% less breading than regular breaded chicken strips.

Crystal Farms fine-tuned its Simply Potatoes brand to include Simply Potatoes Steamables, which are steam-in-the-bag seasoned potatoes that are microwaved and ready in just five minutes. They come in Ranch Style Red Wedges, Rustic Italian Russet Wedges and Zesty Garlic Diced Potatoes.

Meanwhile, ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Kennewick, Wash., built up its Alexia line to entail all-natural, multigrain onion rings and lemon parmesan CrissCut fries.

“The onion rings cater to consumers looking for the nutrients that multigrain offers, and the lemon parmesan CrissCuts offer a couple of divergent flavors that taste great together,” says Robert Owen, marketing director.

Farm Rich is in position to take a bite out of the competition thanks to its Queso Cheese Bites, which are bite-sized snacks filled with creamy white queso cheese.

“We started with creamy queso cheese and created a zesty, bite-sized snack with a slight ‘kick,’ so our customers can enjoy tasty queso on-the-go when they can’t get to their favorite Mexican restaurant,” says Jennifer Meetz, director of marketing for the St. Simons Island, Ga., company.

Trends come and go, but perfecting a product portfolio is a consistent routine that today’s manufacturers must follow in order to aim high and score a perfect 10.