CHICAGO — The newest launch from Slim Jim is not slim at all. Packing 18 grams of protein, the 3-oz. Slim Jim Savage meat stick is three times thicker than the standard serving. Packaging features graphics of the brand’s ‘90s spokesman, wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
It’s one of many new snacks Conagra Brands Inc. is introducing at the 2019 NACS Show, presented by the National Association of Convenience Stores, held Oct. 2-4 in Atlanta.
“When we look at the growth that other sectors have seen as they’ve upsized their food — the amount of growth that king-size drove in confectionery, for example — we see an evidence-based demand signal for larger portions, and Savage stick delivers,” said Burke Raine, vice president and general manager of Conagra Brands’ snacks and sweet treats portfolio.
The callback to Savage may appeal to the nostalgic millennial who remembers the “Snap into a Slim Jim” television ads, and younger consumers use the word “savage” to describe something “super cool,” Raine said.
“It works on multiple levels,” Raine told Food Business News, sister publication to MEAT+POULTRY. “When a 15-year-old says, ‘That’s savage,’ and when a 30-year-old remembers Randy Savage from the old advertising, there’s a nice double entendre there that works.”
With a portfolio spanning meat snacks, seeds, popcorn, sweet treats and specialty categories, Chicago-based Conagra Brands continues to bolster its $2 billion snack business by expanding into new segments and updating legacy brands with on-trend flavors and forms.
“We have a lot of categories in which our brands have leadership positions, and we continue to infuse modern attributes into these iconic brands we have like Slim Jim, and we’re seeing consumers are responding well to the new offerings,” Raine said.
Another new Slim Jim product has a Vlasic pickle-inspired flavor.
“There’s a huge amount of demand we see for pickled/sour/fermented foods and beverages in the market today, and Vlasic is a fabulous brand that we added with the Pinnacle acquisition we made last year,” Raine said. “We are able to use technical knowhow and a great brand we acquired to create a really delicious, on-trend Slim Jim flavor.”
Conagra Brands also is introducing Slim Jim Pork Rinds and Slim Jim Fire Fries. The latter is a potato-based, ready-to-eat snack with spicy seasonings.
“There’s a great opportunity we see to extend the Slim Jim name, which is known for really bold flavor and a distinctive snap, into new categories, and one of the first categories we’re looking at is salty snacks,” Raine said. “Pork rinds is the fastest growing subcategory within salty snacks. Slim Jim has a lot of knowhow around pork products and awesome seasonings, so we’ve got two great flavors of pork rinds that are going to hit the shelves.
“Another fast-growing subcategory we see in salty snacks is fries. Fire Fries are a new product from Slim Jim. We’ve got a blazing buffalo and inferno flavor. Really spicy and bold, exactly what that younger consumer is looking for, with a distinctive Slim Jim snap. It’s a potato product. In recent history, it is (the first non-meat item launching under the Slim Jim name).”
Launching under the Duke’s brand of premium meat snacks is a teriyaki smoked sausage, made with crushed pineapple and a soy marinade.
“If you look across all meat snacks, the No. 2 flavor profile in all meat snacks is teriyaki,” Raine said. “One of the hallmarks of Duke’s is it has real pieces of whole, fresh ingredients — fresh ingredients that are never frozen. Just like the other Duke’s products, there are no hormones added, no nitrates, made in small batches, all the things that make it a real premium offering.”
A new range of seed-based snacks from the David brand contains a mix of lentils, kernels, pepitas and chickpeas. Flavors include sea salt, ranch and barbecue. The Bigs brand is introducing cheeseburger-flavored sunflower seeds following the successful launch of Taco Bell Taco Supreme inspired sunflower seeds last year.
On the sweet side, Crunch ‘n Munch is debuting its first new products in years. A new line of popcorn clusters combines multiple textures and indulgent flavors such as birthday cake, brownie brittle and cookies and cream.
“These are really reimaging what Crunch ‘n Munch can be … taking modern attributes and infusing them into an iconic brand for a more premium proposition that helps expand our sales as well as help retailers expand their categories,” Raine said. “We haven’t had innovation on Crunch ‘n’ Munch in some time.”
Baking mix brand Duncan Hines, which Conagra acquired last year as part of its Pinnacle Foods transaction, is expanding into the sweet snacking segment with the launch of single-serve cake cups featuring Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies and Honey Maid graham cracker inclusions through a partnership with Mondelez International Inc.
“Just add water, microwave and then dump in a pack of inclusions that come with it,” Raine said. “They are super convenient, really tasty. We think it could be a good item for convenience, and we’ve got a great pipeline of innovation on Duncan Hines, and we’re going to continue to innovate to bring more snacking attributes to Duncan Hines, to make it more fun and more convenient.”