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Open-and-shut case

by Kimberlie Clyma
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Americans think breakfast is better with bacon. So say the results of a July survey conducted by Russell Research on behalf of Hormel subsidiary Jennie-O Turkey Store. More than 500 adults were surveyed and results showed that bacon was the most popular breakfast protein.

The brand’s research was conducted as a part of the launch of its new and improved turkey bacon. Research also showed that among regular bacon eaters, taste was the No. 1 quality driving consumers to eat bacon. However, 40 percent of survey respondents also listed high fat content and high levels of sodium as their most important concerns when selecting bacon.

“Many consumers want to make healthier choices, but they don’t want to sacrifice on taste,” says Brent Koosmann, retail product manager for Jennie-O Turkey Store. The recent reformulation of the product was intended not only to satisfy consumer demands, but also to address health needs. “Our goal was to reinvent turkey bacon.”

The new-and-improved turkey bacon has 60 percent less sodium and 60 percent less fat than conventional pork bacon, according to US Dept. of Agriculture data. The product also contains no MSG, no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, no trans fats, no partially hydrogenated fats and is gluten free.

“Jennie-O Turkey Store is on a mission to help the world discover the great taste of turkey,” says Jen Ehresmann, director of marketing at Jennie-O Turkey Store.

“Our goal with this new product launch was to reach occasional bacon users and make them more frequent bacon users because of our product’s health profile and the product’s convenience,” Koosmann adds.

Packaging perks

On the side of consumer convenience, Jennie-O opted to make some alterations to the product’s packaging. The 12 ounces of turkey bacon is now offered in a resealable Zip-Pak package.

“In the research we did, there were two main aspects pertaining to packaging,” Koosmann says. “One part of our research revealed that very few consumers eat the entire package of bacon after they open it. From a convenience standpoint, we wanted to create a situation where they could take out what they needed and reseal it.

“The second side of the research showed what people were doing with the leftover bacon that they weren’t eating in the first place,” he explains. “Consumers were taking the leftover bacon and putting it into a zip-style package afterwards to store it.

“Putting those two pieces of research together and finding the most convenient option for consumers led us to our new resealable zip-closure packaging,” Koosmann said.

However, Jennie-O had to narrow down the packaging options available. “We looked at a few different options, but in the end we were looking for the most functional option. We also wanted something that consumers were already familiar with and were already using on their own,” Koosmann says. “That’s what led us to choose the Zip-Pak package.”

The new package features a tear-off strip along the top of the package. After that is removed, consumers can access the product, remove and use as much as they’d like and reseal it with the press-down ziplock.

Jennie-O turkey bacon is sold in a 12-oz. portion. “This has always been the size of our turkey bacon so we decided to keep that the same during this product re-launch,” Koosmann says. “Consumers said they usually eat around 6 oz. at a time so keeping a 12-oz. package seemed logical.

“With a resealable package, the bacon can be spread out for two or three servings while maintaining product quality and freshness,” he says.

Resealable trends

According to Manteno, Ill.-based Zip-Pak, virtually anything in a flexible package can benefit from a resealable closure. The company has outlined some global trends on its website under its News-Blog section. An article titled “The Future Remains Bright for Resealable Packaging” outlines four trends that will remain important for innovative packaging solutions:

Convenience– Consumers seek out resealable packaging specifically for their convenience. Resealable sliders are highly intuitive, allowing greater ease-of-use. Resealable packaging allows for multi-serve portions and negates the need to transfer food to an unbranded container once opened.

Performance/Cost– Retrofit options allow manufacturers to add zippers to a package without a capital investment and research shows consumers will pay more for a resealable package.

Protection– Consumers will continue to demand that packaging keeps their food safe and fresh. Resealable packaging prevents prolonged air exposure, which can cause products to lose flavor, scent and nutrients faster.

Sustainability– Environmentally-conscious consumers will continue to appreciate how resealable packaging prevents food waste. Resealable packaging helps prevent food waste by maintaining food quality for longer, both in-store and at home.

Cost-conscious

When selecting new packaging for an existing product, there’s always a cost concern to consider. Zip-Pak Systems offers its customers the opportunity to retrofit their existing equipment to incorporate resealable packaging. According to Zip-Pak, most of the world’s popular packaging machinery companies offer a zipper-ready option that works directly with Zip-Pak’s exclusive applicators.

The new Jennie-O turkey bacon is processed and packaged in the West Central Turkeys Inc. Pelican Rapids, Minn., plant. “By creating efficiencies with our lines, we offset the additional cost of the zipper packaging and have not had to pass on any price increase reflective of the new packaging to the consumer,” Koosmann says.

The new and improved turkey bacon started shipping to retailers in July. Jennie-O has initiated a full marketing campaign around the product launch called “Make the Switch.” The campaign centers around getting consumers to try more turkey products. Included is a social media campaign on Facebook’s “Switch to Turkey” page, which includes recipes and commentary and invites consumers to share their feedback. A number of consumer Facebook comments compliment the company’s decision to switch to resealable packaging.

According to Zip-Pak, for many consumers, the ability to reseal a package is one of the most convenient features available and can often be what’s needed to get the product off the store shelf and into the shopping cart.

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