The votes are in for Refrigerated & Frozen Foods2016 Readers’ Choice Best New Retail Products contest, part 2. Congratulations to GNP Co., St. Cloud, Minn., for taking first place with an astonishing 11,887 votes for its Gold’n Plump SHAKERS.

Marina Mayer, editor-in-chief of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods and the creator of the Best New Retail Products contest, talked exclusively with Tracy Miller, director of product innovation and management, to discuss more in-depth about the contest, the “winning” product and what’s in store for the future.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: First off, congratulations on being named one of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ Top 5 Readers’ Choice winners in 2016. What does this recognition mean to you, your company, your products and your consumers?

Tracy Miller: The nomination was such a great surprise. At GNP Co., we focus on the voice of the consumer, and spend time listening to their issues with meal planning and preparation. Our goal is to create products that provide meal planning and prep solutions – and a fun and tasty experience. Receiving this recognition has been reinforcement that we are listening and creating concepts that meet that goal.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Your new retail product—Gold’n Plump SHAKERS—was nominated by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ editor-in-chief, Marina Mayer. What features does this new product hold that would allow it to even be nominated? What makes it different from other products on the supermarket shelf?

Miller: Gold’n Plump SHAKERS is different from other products on the shelf because it’s made of all-natural chicken, raised with No Antibiotics-Ever. The product is real whole muscle boneless, skinless breast pieces with no added sodium solution and no fillers; packaged fresh, never frozen. The flavors are chef-inspired with the goal for wide appeal and usage. This is not just another chicken nugget. Beyond the product, the packaging was designed so that the consumer has a no-mess prep that can be fun and fast.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Why develop this type of product?

Miller: Gold’n Plump developed this product to address two issues consumers have: 1) they told us that they don’t like to touch raw meat; and 2) they have minimal time to prepare meals. The preparation is so fast and easy that many consumers have told us that they have engaged their children in the meal-time preparation.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: What goes into developing a new product?

Miller: We begin all new product development by talking with the consumer about what is bugging them the most about meal planning and preparation. Then we engage in ideation sessions with consumers, chefs and packaging professionals. From there, we continue to refine the concept after trials and sensory evaluations, until we feel we have found a new product that meets consumers’ needs.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Any unique features to the product’s packaging?

Miller: Gold’n Plump SHAKERS packaging benefits include an easy-open chicken pouch and a heavy-duty zipper on the outer bag, so the preparation is completely touch free and no-mess. The prep is fun, so we designed the outer bag to be fun as well with bold colors, simple, close-up photography and a font-style with personality.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: This new product raked in an astonishing 11,887 votes. How did you go about accruing so many votes? What was your plan?

Miller: We were so excited about the nomination; we went to social media, our Gold’n Plump team members, friends and family. They responded with a strong support of the product. 

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: What is on the horizon for your company come 2017?

Miller: We launched the SHAKERS product in September 2016. In October, we launched a line of fully cooked chicken meatballs (Pesto Italian and Homestyle) and sliced chicken sausages (Italian Cheese & Peppers and Hickory Smoked) in the frozen meat case. Next spring, we have even more exciting items hitting the grocer’s meat case. Stay tuned.