“When it comes to meal time, Americans want it all: their favorite dishes, but with less fat, calories, artificial ingredients or preservatives. Fortunately, Jennie-O is in a unique position to meet the needs of today’s families and health-conscious consumers,” said Brent Koosmann, director of marketing, Jennie-O. “Our uncured turkey franks are a great example of the flavorful, better-for-you foods we’re creating to satisfy and inspire grocery shoppers.”
|Mary Wieland, retail brand manager, Jennie-O|
To gain more insight into the brand’s innovation process, MEAT+POULTRY spoke with Mary Wieland, retail brand manager, and Jeff Dierenfeld, product development manager.
M+P: There’s so much conversation on plant-based diets, yet data shows Americans are eating more meat than ever before. Turkey products are often found to be the happy medium for those trying to reduce red meat consumption but are not quite into meat alternatives. Why is turkey attractive to today’s consumers?
Mary Wieland: Turkey has always been a wholesome, nutritious option to beef. For example, turkey burgers are a popular restaurant item and their versatility is increasingly being showcased with a diverse array of unique, flavorful menu options. Building on this popularity, we have revamped our retail burger options to respond to a growing consumer demand for products that taste great and offer better-for-you features. We simplified our seasoned and white burgers by including only all-natural ingredients that deliver satisfying flavor and guilt-free nutrition. Also new for 2018 is a turkey twist on the classic bacon and cheddar burger. Typically, only available with pork bacon, the new turkey bacon and cheddar burger infuses cheddar cheese bits and crispy turkey bacon crumbles to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience.
M+P: Speaking of bacon, how did Jennie-O decide on the new blueberry and jalapeño flavors?
|Jeff Dierenfeld, Jennie-O product development manager|
Jeff Dierenfeld: Testing is key. Drawing from experience is always a great help, but sometimes creative thinking and trying something you haven’t before opens doors to new possibilities, even if it doesn’t make sense on paper. Our product development team regularly works cross-functionally with our marketing and operations teams to help define processes and procedures. Understanding the popularity of bold flavors, the two teams were given the challenge to extend our turkey bacon line to include something new and different. Blueberry just makes sense for breakfast, when you think about blueberry pancakes, muffins, etc. It’s sweeter and the blueberry aroma fills the air when it is on the griddle. Then, to complement the sweeter blueberry, we wanted to create a bold, spicy alternative. While we did test multiple spicy alternatives, the jalapeño rose to the top with internal flavor testing. Jalapeño turkey bacon has a savory, bold flavor that can be looked at as being more versatile and easily transitions from breakfast to lunch and dinner. The jalapeño flavor profile adds a whole new dimension to a turkey burger or bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
M+P: How are the flavors added?
Dierenfeld: Because turkey bacon is formed from ground meats, we are able to blend in identifiable pieces of real ingredients like blueberries and jalapeño peppers. Any time that a product allows the flavor to be incorporated throughout the entire piece, rather than just on the surface [like in pork bacon rubs], the delivery can be much more impactful.
M+P: Speaking of flavors, what seasonings work well with turkey? How is Jennie-O adding these flavors to its new products?
Dierenfeld: We look at turkey as a blank slate. Because turkey on its own has a very neutral flavor, it is incredibly accepting of almost any flavor or seasoning that you can dream up. Our new bold sliced flavors are a perfect example of this. Cajun, sriracha and chipotle are all bold flavors, but are very different from one another; each delivering its own unique, authentic twist.
Wieland: Building on the success of fresh ground turkey in the chub package format, Jennie-O now offers three new all-natural seasoned options. They are chorizo, Italian and taco. They contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives and are gluten free. The fresh seasoned ground turkey comes in convenient 1-lb. packages, which are compact and space saving in the fridge or freezer. These products help make meal prep easy and convenient.
M+P: Why did the brand decide to add uncured turkey franks to its hot dog lineup?
Wieland: Hot dogs are an American food icon, but a preference for premium meats and awareness of common preservatives have prompted many families to move away from this kid-friendly favorite. To replicate the familiar cured flavor with a more health-conscious alternative, we’ve used celery powder in place of curing salt. The item is being rolled out to retailers nationwide in time for the summer grilling season.