The votes are in for Refrigerated & Frozen Foods2019 Best New Retail Products contest. Congratulations to Farm Rich/Rich Products Corp., St. Simons Island, Ga., for placing fourth its American Grilled Cheese Sticks.

Marina Mayer, editor-in-chief of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods and the creator of the Best New Retail Products contest, talked exclusively with Shannon Gilreath, director of marketing, to discuss the “winning” product and why frozen snacks reign in consumers’ home freezers.


Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: First off, congratulations on placing FOURTH in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2019 Best New Retail Products contest, with 3,590 votes. What does this recognition mean to you, your company, your products and your consumers?

Shannon Gilreath: This is a huge honor for us. Each year, Farm Rich introduces new products for our consumers to enjoy, which we hope will also make their lives a little easier, and the new Grilled Cheese Sticks really hit home with shoppers. It’s a nostalgic product we’ve brought to the freezer aisle, but it has an easy twist—quick to make (microwavable) and eat (in hand-held sticks).

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Your new retail product—American Grilled Cheese Sticks—were nominated by Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ editor-in-chief, Marina Mayer. What unique and innovative features does this new product hold that would allow it to even be nominated?

Gilreath: Americans eat about 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches a year, according to the NDP Group, and now this classic has been made super easy in snack form to keep pace with the busy lives of today’s consumers. The Grilled Cheese Sticks are made with melty American cheese, sandwiched between toasted white bread and are ready to pop in the toaster, oven or microwave whenever that craving hits. This is a great filling snack (or easy meal) to stock in the freezer for hungry kids or adults. Pair it with tomato soup and you’ve got a quick and delicious meal everyone will enjoy.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: What separates this product from the other frozen snacks and appetizers on the market? What does this say about the future of the industry, consumers and their demands?

Gilreath: Our Grilled Cheese Sticks are the first frozen grilled cheese sandwiches on the market, and they serve as a good source of protein at 7 grams per serving. No matter what food innovations our category continues to make, shoppers always enjoy the classics, especially when they’re convenient and made with quality ingredients.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Why create this new product?

Gilreath: Farm Rich is known for its outstanding cheese products. In fact, we’re the No. 1 brand in frozen cheese snacks, and our Farm Rich Mozzarella Sticks continue to be America's favorite. The Grilled Cheese Sticks are a great complement to our popular snack portfolio.

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

Gilreath: The Grilled Cheese Sticks were one of the first items to feature the new Farm Rich packaging updates introduced last year. Smith Design creates our packaging, and we love the bright colors, graphics and clean look of the new design, which we think helps distinguish our products in a big category that has hundreds of other products in grocery freezer cases.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: What is on the horizon for your company come 2019 into 2020?

Gilreath: For 2019, we’re gearing up for the launch of more handheld snack solutions, with convenient prep made for busy days. Also, we’re working with some nationally recognized brands to roll out new co-branded snack offerings. For our meatballs, you’ll be seeing some innovative offerings featuring on-trend flavors.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Anything else to add to the conversation of new product development? Anything you’d like to share with our readers that hasn’t been discussed?

Gilreath: The Farm Rich team is constantly listening, researching and testing products that meet the needs of our consumers—those who like to have wholesome, easy apps in the freezer for impromptu gatherings or family snacks and meals. Our products also address the needs of consumers who like to “fuel” throughout the day with quick, protein-packed, filling snacks that are sometimes even consumed in place of regular meals.

As our consumers’ desires and behaviors change, we’re continually looking ahead to see how we can innovate and create products that fit their lifestyles.