The votes are in for Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2016 Readers’ Choice Best New Retail Products contest, part 2. Congratulations to Land O’Frost, Munster, Ind., for placing fourth with 473 votes for its Deli Snackers. Land O’Frost was also selected as one of this issue’s Processors to Watch in 2017.

Marina Mayer, editor-in-chief of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods and the creator of the Best New Retail Products contest, talked exclusively with Rich Carlson, director of innovation, 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?

Rich Carlson: We are delighted Land O’Frost’s Deli Snackers were voted by fans as a Top 5 Readers’ Choice “Best New Retail Product.” As a third-generation family owned and operated business, we are always dedicated to providing great tasting meats to our customers and their families all across the United States. To hear the products are resonating with consumers is a testament to our commitment in providing products that meet the tastes, preferences and needs of today’s busy families.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Your new retail product—Deli Snackers—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?

Carlson: Deli Snackers are the perfect on-the-go snacking solution, made with high-quality, extra-lean chicken breast meat or ham. The quality of meat is part of what sets Deli Snackers apart, along with the fact they aren’t highly extended with water like many products on the market. Additionally, our packaging is a unique product feature because it is easy to open, is single-served and has a front panel window where the product is visible. We decided to make the packaging clear to appeal to consumers as they browse in the grocery store today.

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

Carlson: Snacking is becoming an integral part of consumer eating habits, as more consumers are looking to snack throughout the day. Deli Snackers is a response to the snacking trend and provides a flavorful and convenient option. We’ve also found that consumers want to pack more protein into their diets. With the Deli Snackers line, we’ve provided a healthy and protein-rich choice that has more than 10 grams of nourishing protein and just 80 calories per 2-ounce serving. At Land O’Frost, we are always exploring ways to introduce new offerings that meet the desires and needs of our customers.

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

Carlson: Deli Snackers are meant to be picked up and eaten right from the package. In our research, consumers made it clear they don’t like to touch wet lunchmeat. We took great care designing the product to balance the typical meaty bite with a product surface that doesn’t get too wet. The package is gas flushed, not vacuum-sealed, so moisture isn’t pulled from the product. Our packaging decisions were focused on catering to what today’s consumer, and specifically Millennials, are looking for, which in this case was a convenient, portable snack. The package is easy-to-open and features a clear panel because based on research; consumers expressed interest to see the product through the packaging, especially on something as new and different such as Deli Snackers. Also, all of our packaging graphics are designed by our internal graphics team.

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

Carlson: We do extensive research on concepts and various elements, and we also keep in mind consumer input. For example, as we developed Deli Snackers, we knew the idea of an all-meat, high-protein and healthy snack scored well with consumers. Additionally, we test various packaging, portions, flavors and piece sizes in order to develop the best final product.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: This new product raked in 473 votes, placing fourth. How did you go about accruing so many votes? What was your plan?

Carlson: We are lucky to have a broad and dedicated fan base, along with a great group of colleagues around the country. As a family-owned business, our people are one of our highest commitments, and we’re happy to see they came through to show their love of Deli Snackers in this contest.

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

Carlson: We are excited to continue bringing the same quality products consumers have come to expect, and we have some exciting new updates up our sleeve, especially for those busy, on-the-go families and young adults. Keep an eye out for more news coming soon.