Taylor Farms is planning to take its existing Steam Cuisine line more mainstream.
The company plans to have four new products in the line by fall, including chicken fettuccine alfredo, orange chicken and spaghetti and meatballs, said Alex Taylor, director of prepared foods.
The new products, which could be ready for stores by November, will be part of the Taylor Fresh Steam Cuisine line, which includes single-serve entrees and side dishes that are microwave-ready in two minutes, Taylor said.
Courtesy Taylor Farms
The existing line of products broke into SuperValu stores in the past month as part of the chainâs private label Culinary Circle. The recipes used for private label are proprietary, but are similar to the existing 18 Taylor Fresh Steam Cuisine products.
Trader Joeâs has sold the products under its private label for about a year, Taylor said. The retailer has the lowest price on the product at $3.99, he said. They sell for as much as $5.99 in the deli section of grocery stores.
âWild Mushroom Tortelloni is probably the most popular,â Taylor said.
The existing line includes seafood, chicken and vegetable entrees, as well as vegetable sides. Because the Steam Cuisine products already include Creole Style Chicken Sausage & Pasta, Thai Green Curry Prawns and Sichuan Style Salmon, the company decided to include a few classic favorites.
âWeâre still working on the recipe development, but theyâll probably be more mainstream to appeal to the mass market,â Taylor said.
Taylor Farms works with outside partners on the protein, pasta and sauce components of the dishes.
âThe vegetables are the ingredients with the shorter shelf life, and thatâs our specialty,â Taylor said. They have around a 10-day shelf life.
Taylor Farms launched the Steam Cuisine line in 2006. Taylor said it has taken a few years to get the category moving at retail.
âOverall, the response has been really good at retail,â Taylor said. âBut weâve had mixed sales results because itâs a new categoryâ
Taylor said the hurdle is educating deli department workers about the product, and also bringing it to the attention of consumers as something to can replace frozen meals with for lunch or dinner.
âItâs a neat, innovative concept thatâs really starting to pick up speed,â Taylor said.
The price point for these refrigerated meals will have to stay higher than what can be done in frozen, but the quality difference is worth it, Taylor said.
Taylor said once the company finishes developing recipes for the four new products and designing new packaging, the roll-out should happen quickly, because three of its packinghouses are already set up to process the meals. The company plans retail promotion should accompany the launch.
Taylor said he sees opportunities for Steam Cuisine in the Taylor Fresh label as well as private label, and possibly in foodservice applications.
Taylor rejoined Taylor Farms around two months ago to take on prepared foods. He said he worked for the company when he was younger, then left to go to graduate school. He spent the last couple of years in investment banking before returning to his familyâs company, he said.