If you’re a die-hard industry veteran who feels recent meat and poultry new- product launches are nothing more than ordinary, the following is some food for thought that might surprise you.

During Alltech’s 28th Annual International Symposium held at the end of May, Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of the company, unveiled the company’s new Lyons Farm brand of beef and poultry. What’s surprising about this launch is up until this introduction, Alltech was a global animal health and nutrition company that has racked up 32 years of experience in developing natural products — but to enhance animal health and performance.

“Lyons Farm is really exciting because it is a tremendous opportunity for us to share our passion for naturally improving health and nutrition for both animals and consumers,” Lyons said of the launch.

Lyons Farm’s poultry and beef products are made using Alltech’s natural nutritional feeding programs. A company news release explains that each animal is fed the right nutrients at the right time based on its specific needs. The company further claims this results in consistent, premium-quality meat rich in antioxidants and nutrients while remaining free from additives such as growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics.

Studies on beef produced using Alltech’s feeding program relay oxidation values are 50 percent lower, the pH is lower, the mineral status is improved and there is greater moisture in the beef. The beef also has exceptional tenderness, flavor and quality, chefs and consumers have reported.

Alltech Angus is currently available in 150 restaurants and retailers in Lexington and Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio. Lyons Farm poultry was expected to be released shortly, with other food products to follow in the future, the company teased back in May.

Just when you think the well has run dry when it comes to introducing new steaks, Oklahoma State Univ.’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center (FAPC), department of animal science, Technology Development Center and The Ranchers Club restaurant teamed up in the discovery and launch of the “newest” cut on the beef carcass: the Vegas Strip Steak.

At present, this steak is still somewhat a mystery. It is 100 percent whole muscle and nothing has been added to it. But because fabrication of this product is intellectual property, its discoverers are not disclosing any more information about the cut at this time.

“Given the history of the beef industry, the discovery of a new beef steak that has never before been fabricated and marketed could appear to be an impossibility,” said Jacob Nelson, FAPC value-added meat processing specialist. “The Vegas Strip Steak is the latest and perhaps last steak to be found on the beef carcass.”

As the story goes, Tony Mata of Mata & Associates, who has more than 30 years of beef carcass research and development experience, approached Nelson and the FAPC with the possibility of a new steak. Initially, the cut was labeled as undervalued, Mata said. “This muscle produces a steak that is on par with or better than today’s most popular steaks,” Mata claims.

The FAPC provided Mata with technical assistance, facility availability and industry application. Other university involvement came from OSU’s department of animal science, Technology Development Center and The Ranchers Club restaurant.

After discovering this muscle that is reportedly capable of producing a steak comparable to the New York Strip, Steven Price, associate vice president for technology development of the Technology Development Center at OSU, and the Technology Development Center, provided initial patent guidance. Price still assists with the varying aspects of intellectual property, Nelson said.

As part of OSU’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration and the College of Human Sciences, The Ranchers Club had a hand in preliminary preparation, plating and tasting of the new steak.

Although nutritious, Mexican food isn’t considered as health food, but some new offerings are tilting in that direction. Late in April, Dinuba, Calif.-based El Monterey introduced Hearty & Delicious (HD) Burritos — which are billed as healthier morning and afternoon/evening Burrito options for institutional and commercial foodservice. The four, 5-oz. varieties include whole-grain tortillas and contain 15-17 grams of protein each, are high in fiber, low in calories plus feature reduced sodium.

“For those customers who want to offer foods that promote a healthier lifestyle, our new El Monterey Hearty & Delicious Burritos are a healthy and satisfying full-flavor experience and are fast and convenient to serve,” said Kim Ruiz Beck, chairman and interim president and CEO, Ruiz Foods.

The four El Monterey HD Burritos flavors include Huevos Rancheros Burrito; Egg, Turkey Sausage and Cheese Burrito; Chicken with Fire Roasted Veggies Burrito; and Steak with Fire Roasted Veggies Burrito
El Monterey HD Burritos are on average 7.25 percent lower in total fat when compared to El Monterey 5 oz. Burritos; on average 11.25 percent lower in saturated fat; on average 14 percent higher in dietary fiber compared to El Monterey Supreme Burritos; are on average 26 percent lower in sodium when compared to El Monterey Supreme Burritos.

These products are bulk-packed, require minimal labor and no special equipment. Cook to temperature from one of the multiple standard heating methods and plate with whatever sides, sauces or topping preferred. They are also ideal for cafeteria-style service from stainless holding trays.

The following launch surprised me the most. Salt Lake City, Utah-based Survivalist Food, a Wise Company business, launched new seasoned, freeze-dried meats in early May. You seldom read about such products, but there is definitely a niche here — and these products appear to be far more upscale than traditional freeze-dried meats. Their new Grab & Go Meat Bucket includes roasted chicken, southwest style chicken, teriyaki style chicken, savory roasted ground beef, cheesy ground beef and stroganoff-style beef.

“We recommend having a 1-year supply of food for each member of your family in case of extreme emergencies. In the case of disaster, or even loss of work, having long-term food storage ensures that your family will never go hungry in any situation,” the company touts. Survivalist Food also offers freeze-dried fruits and vegetables with gourmet sauces and its more popular freeze-dried prepared entrée and breakfast meals.

Wise Company says there are several advantages to choosing its gourmet freeze-dried meat. They feature an extended shelf-life of up to 15 years. Unlike standard dehydrated foods, the company claims its freeze-dried meats retain color, texture, flavor and most importantly nutrition, Its freeze-dried meals have a shelf life of up to 25 years.

These are just several recent new product surprises recently uncovered offering proof that some new-product launches are anything but ordinary.