Nothing breeds innovation like competition. Ready and willing to light that fire was Saffron Road®, now one of the leading brands offering clean-label premium frozen meals, simmer sauces, and plant-based protein snacks. Jack Acree, Executive Vice President, has been with the team since that first charge in 2010, seeing the company’s chickpea snacking line come to fruition in 2012. As such, one of the first things we discussed was how the market has diversified since that debut.
“We were the first to launch into the category in 2012 and have since had a couple of competitors rise up, which is something we view as a good thing. When trying to build a new category, that competition helps propel it and now it’s growing rapidly,” Jack shares.
That growth has cracked open an opportunity for Saffron to expand its flavor portfolio, as climbing awareness, and even demand, for chickpeas has carved out a space for further innovation.
“What we’re seeing, for our own business in particular and some legacy natural items, is that the chickpea offers a growth curve,” Jack continues. “On a broader scale for the deli industry, consumers understand and want chickpeas now thanks to hummus in particular, and the knowledge and familiarity it has given them.”
That familiarity has led to the launch of Saffron’s newest flavors for its crunchy chickpea snacks:
“All these flavors are clean, high-quality ingredients, offering options we see consumers looking for,” Jack shares.
That same attitude that has helped Saffron, and the industry as a whole, see success in the snacking department carries over to its fresh frozen foods as well, where it is introducing three more additional items.
“It’s very gratifying for us to see other brands step up to what we started—we were the first frozen protein in the market that was antibiotic free and humanely raised,” Jack tells me, explaining that using antibiotic-free protein is important not just in food but also in the world we live in. “One of our hallmarks, which is so gratifying for us, is authenticity on a couple of levels of our business. Especially now, we want to bring a restaurant experience to customers from the convenience of a frozen offering.”
With that in mind, the company’s Journey To Better™ World Cuisines, which include authentic cooking techniques while following traditional and true paths in cooking, ingredients, and recipes, provides a fresh-tasting option from a frozen product.
“Our techniques and commitment to traditional preparations locks in those sought-after flavors and helps bring people as close to the authentic experience as possible through food,” Jack says. “We live in a global world and a global marketplace.”
Perhaps now more than ever, it is paramount to have such a commitment to quality while maintaining connection in the kitchen. As we continue to report on the latest, both in products and news affecting our industry, keep an eye out for Deli Market News.