Beaverton, Oregon-based Reser’s Fine Foods focused on product versatility during this year’s IDDBA Show in Anaheim, California, where The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves was able to catch up with the team to see what’s new.
With a wide range of products, the prepared foods company provides retailers with solutions across the deli, according to Anne Nelson, senior manager, brand strategy, total deli.
“We cross every category and segment that there is within the deli. We have a lot of solutions for consumers out there,” she said. “And I think we tend to refer to them more as solutions than products. It’s all about helping the retailer and consumer.”
The company has been focusing on some of the largest trends in the prepared deli space, where bold flavors, bulk purchases and easy-to-prepare items are dominating. Reser’s has two keys when it comes to its offerings – versatility and flexibility.
“We know not every retailer is facing the same kind of challenges right now,” Nelson said. “With inflation, some are closing bulk cases, some are expanding sections, not everybody is a one size fits all. We think one of the benefits of Reser’s Fine Foods is being able to pull all those levers to try to come at that problem from different angles.”
Nelson noted that several presenters at the IDDBA Show predicted the restaurant industry’s current bounce-back will likely be temporary.
“If you look at the trends and how consumers are eating, 80 percent of consumers are still eating at home…[so] we need to make sure that we’re giving them some of those options at home, too, meeting them where they are,” she said.
“What different ways can we give retailers and consumers options to approach that kind of full meal solution? We are using our categories in new ways.”
As an example, she cited Reser’s Korean Style Noodle Salad.
“[It] has been a top trending salad for us for a couple of years…we’ve added proteins like sliced beef to it,” she said. “Suddenly, it’s a fully prepared entree ready for you’re ready-to-eat section. Some people may also buy it and add vegetables or do their own thing.”
The salad also touches on the popularity of ethnic and diverse food options in a restaurant setting, dishes that generally involve more preparation.
“They require you to buy more ingredients and they’re less often made at home,” Nelson said. “If we can hit on some of those elements with a single product, we’re helping consumers as well as retailers.”
Likewise, the company’s Chipotle Sweet Potato Salad can be served in a couple of ways. One of the company’s newest offerings, the dish is sold cold and can be eaten as is. It can also be heated as a side.
“[It] hits on a few trends like ethnic flavors, bold flavors, versatility, hot and cold and spice. We’re coming from all angles,” Nelson said. “I hesitate to call it a salad…and it’s a diced sweet potato, which is a bit more uncommon in our category. It’s using a staple ingredient in a new way.”
Reser’s Fine Foods also was touting products under its “American Classics” line at IDDBA. Megan Torres, brand strategy manager, deli sides and dips, explained how the company is innovating classics.
This fall, creamed corn will release under the line. Likewise, classic Reser’s offerings like potato and macaroni salads will see new varieties.
Torres showcased Zesty BBQ Mac, which she described as “America on a plate.” In addition, barbecue and ranch flavors have been added to the baseline offerings.
“Then another one of those things that’s exciting and following those trends, we have in our Stonemill Kitchens brand a charcuterie starter kit,” Torres said. “Charcuterie kits and boards and tables are becoming more popular.
“We basically took our two top-selling dips and added pretzel chips and pita chips. It’s grab a package of salami and ‘boom,’ you’ve got a charcuterie board in a quick five minute trip.”