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Following ‘Big Year,’ Kevin’s Expanding Into Frozen Aisle

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Kevin McCray, founder of Kevin’s Natural Foods, was at ExpoWest 2024 to promote the company’s move into the frozen aisle. He chatted with The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves about the product innovation.

The expansion was a result of “following the consumer around in their daily lives.” McCray said customers wanted a complete meal they could easily take to work.

Initially a multi-serve sous vide meal, McCray said the original packaged proteins or sides feed two to three people. “We looked at how do we take [these] and turn that into a complete meal and then put it all in one container to give to the consumer on the go. That led us to the frozen aisle as our best delivery vehicle for that.”

Kevin’s Natural Foods launched a line of eight frozen entrees, all with the nutrition attributes the brand is known for, such as Paleo-certified and Keto-certified options. All are sous vide proteins – chicken raised without antibiotics or hormones, grass-fed, grass-finished beef – with no refined sugar.

“As opposed to selling Thai coconut chicken on its own, now you can get a bowl and it has the same Thai coconut sauce you know and love, the same sous vide chicken, but now it’s also with cauliflower rice and fresh vegetables. You can just pop it in the microwave for three minutes.”

Researching frozen foods, McCray said “the first thing we did was eat everything in the frozen aisle.” The products they most liked had protein that was tender and moist, and the sauces were full of flavor. They started experimenting with their sous vide proteins and found that they hold up “extraordinarily well” in the freezer.

For the new line, McCray said the company has opened a new production facility in Stockton, California, about two miles from its sous vide facility. The proteins and sauces are assembled “in a cleanroom into these frozen bowls.”

McCray added that 2023 was a “big innovation year” for the company. At the end of the year, it launched a line of raw marinated proteins for this year’s grilling season. The chicken breasts are cut into portions.

“Just like in our sous vide meals, no bad bites, fully trimmed nice chicken breast filets in a marinade so you can just slap this on the grill in the summertime.”

The company also launched a line of chilled soups at retail, with “the health claims that Kevin’s is known for.” Currently in about 4,000 retail locations across the country, McCray said the soup line will expand later this year.

Kevin’s Natural Foods was acquired by Mars in 2023.

Read more frozen news from The Shelby Report.

Kevin’s Natural Foods Names Bernstein As CEO

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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