Tyson tries new direction with fruit-nut snack balls

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Tyson Foods Inc., which produces 1 out of every 5 pounds of meat processed in the U.S., is taking another step in a new direction.

As it begins a nationwide rollout of vegetarian chicken-like nuggets and blended burgers made of beef and pea-protein, the company has a new snack in development with flavors such as mint matcha and cranberry kombucha.

The meatpacker’s latest effort, called Pact snack bites, are fruit and nut balls made for a health and wellness food category that is expected to grow as shoppers demand more nutrient-dense foods containing vitamins, minerals, pre- and probiotics.

“Consumers are looking for delicious, convenient foods to deliver essential protein and other functional benefits,” Noelle O’Mara, Tyson’s group president of prepared foods, said Wednesday.

Lately, health magazines and reports have touted the benefits of eating “functional foods,” which claim to do everything from reduce cholesterol to prevent cancer. The category covers a wide variety of foods, including whole, enriched, fortified and modified foods. But the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating more whole “functional foods,” such as berries, nuts and grains.

Others like Kraft Foods, Nestle and General Mills, are already capitalizing on the food category expected to reach $100 billion in the U.S. by 2025, according to Zion market research. But O’Mara is optimistic that Tyson can begin to capture that demand as it continues to roll out new products like Pact snack bites.

The snacks contain fruits, nuts, seeds and egg whites and come in four flavors, including turmeric ginger, cranberry kombucha, mint matcha blueberry, and cocoa coconut collagen (which has animal derived-collagen). Refrigeration is recommended for freshness, but they can be eaten without refrigeration for up to a week. There are no artificial flavors.

Over the past several months, the Pact Foods team has worked with chefs and nutritionists to fine-tune the product. A promotional video for Pact products showed passers-by on Chicago streets who said the snacks surprisingly “didn’t have any chemical taste” and were “very good.”

Along with its line of Raised and Rooted nuggets and blended burgers, Tyson also has developed Hillshire snacking plates and Jimmy Dean “eggwiches” and breakfast bowls to broaden its product portfolio that traditionally has been chicken, beef and pork.

Tyson spokeswoman Susan Wassel said the campaign ends Oct. 18 and the company will use what it finds to determine what the next steps of product development are.

To keep with emerging trends and shifting demand, large companies continue to buy smaller ones or develop their own competing trendy products, said Martin Thoma, principal of Thoma Thoma marketing agency in Little Rock. It’s not dissimilar to the larger, traditional beverage companies snapping up craft breweries, he said.

“What’s driving this is our society’s interest in more handmade, handcrafted, artisanal, closer-to-the-source food and beverage options,” said Thoma.

Lately, Tyson has moved into more ready-to-eat, prepared-food options that carry higher margins compared with commodity meats. Pact is another example of this, Thoma said, but with flavors known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

“Clearly Tyson sees an opportunity and is moving into that.”

Business on 09/20/2019

Print Headline: Tyson tries new direction with fruit-nut snack balls

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