Freeze-Dry Foods says it is revolutionizing pre-packaged meals, making them tastier and healthier than ever before by locking in nutrients in its freeze-dried protein ingredients.
The company is seeking to improve the options available to the busy consumer who wants a nutritious and satisfying meal or snack within a limited preparation time. Freeze-Dry Foods is partnering with other food companies to add high-quality chicken, beef and seafood to vegetables, seasonings and pasta, rice or potatoes to make dry meal mixes that taste great.
The ready-made meals and snacks will now include freeze-dried proteins that can be ready in 10 minutes or less. The meals are low in fat and sodium and provide generous amounts of protein. “It’s a whole new category in the grocery store,” Director of Consumer Division Tracey Myers says. “Instead of frozen or canned meals where pasta and vegetables tend to break down and become mushy, our process allows for a better tasting product with crisp vegetables, tender meats and al dente pasta.”
Freeze-Dry Foods’ headquarters is in Ontario, Canada, and the manufacturing plant is in Albion, N.Y., where developers have been working on new products and conducting consumer testing over the last 18 months. The company is creating a variety of recipes for dry mixes for meals, sauces, gravy, side dishes and snacks that include high-quality meats and seafood with no preservatives.
“Our third-party research of 2,000 North American customers showed that 83 percent found this concept appealing and 52 percent said they would purchase the product when available,” President Karen Richardson says. “This shows that there is a market for high-quality product innovations in ready meals.”
The company’s recipes have performed well in taste tests. Richardson says its high-quality, natural protein inclusions provide a more nutritious alternative than most of the pre-packaged, processed meal options available in cans or existing dry mixes available on the shelves today. “We know consumers are looking to ensure everything has protein to get it in their diet,” Myers says.
To gain interest from retailers for private-label branding, Freeze-Dry Foods is presenting its new recipes at trade shows for tasting and discovery. Richardson explains that the goal of the company is to expand its consumer division through this new concept.
“We know we have a high-quality product that meets the needs of the consumer and we want to get the message out and create a new category of solutions for the consumer,” Richardson says.
‘Gold Standard’ Drying
Freeze-Dry Foods has been freeze-drying ingredients for multi national food companies and other specialty processors for more than 40 years. Freeze-drying is the process of dehydrating frozen foods under a vacuum so the moisture content changes directly from a solid to a gaseous form without undergoing the liquid state.
In this process, the product maintains its original size and shape. Freeze-dried products will maintain nutrients, color, flavor and texture that are often indistinguishable from the original product.
Although the freeze-drying science and technology used by the company is similar across other freeze-drying plants, Freeze-Dry Foods stands out from its competitors by living its values of customer service, dependability, teamwork and integrity every day.
“We are partners with our customers to create solutions that will make each of us successful,” Richardson says. “We work hard to understand the needs of the customer and the marketplace and go the extra mile to deliver.”
Product quality is guaranteed because the company is regulated and in compliance with all requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Canadian Food Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Freeze-Dry Foods also participates in the British Retail Counsel audit program, which is an independent set of stricter food processing standards.
The company achieved an ‘A’ rating. “BRC is extra documentation and assurance for customers,” Richardson explains. “Many of our customers require us to be certified to the higher SQF standards and need independent verification of that before working with us.”
Myers and Richardson say the future for Freeze-Dry Foods includes continuous innovation in products and processes. Freeze-Dry Foods prides itself on its robust continuous improvement processes which drive cost-savings through new and better ways of doing things. “We are always learning and are open to new ideas, which can help drive efficiencies and cost-savings throughout the organization,” Richardson says. “We will never compromise quality so we have to find ways to maintain our rigorous quality standards while deliver cost advantages to our customers.”
The consumer division will continue to be a top focus for the company as its new dry meal and snack solutions hit the market. “Our products are convenient, they taste great and they provide a healthier alternative to other ready meal solutions,” Myers says of the new recipes. The company is projecting growth with new product launches.
“We see the company growing based on the introduction of these innovative product solutions that utilize the best of our unique freeze-drying technology and expertise,” Richardson adds. “We make healthy, convenient products that improve the quality of people’s lives.”