Product Focus: Summer Grilling Heats Up for Food Manufacturers

Whether it's for entertainment, taste, or convenience, American consumers are heading to their grills this summer.

About three-quarters of Americans plan to don an apron and grab a spatula to grill their favorite proteins this summer, according to a recent Cargill Feed4Thought survey, which polled more than 1,000 people in the U.S. this April. The results show 94 percent say they trust the meat they buy for grilling is safe to eat. The survey also found nearly 80 percent believe food producers are taking the necessary steps to ensure their meat is safe for grilling. Additionally, 87 percent believe an animal’s diet can have an impact on food safety.

Why do people grill? Besides the fact that it is a time to be outdoors and gather with friends and family, consumers simply enjoy the taste of grilled foods. Almost three-fourths (72 percent) of grill/smoker owners use their outdoor cooking appliance for flavor, according to the State of the Barbecue Industry Report from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Assn., Arlington, Va. More than half (52 percent) say it’s a lifestyle choice. Forty percent of respondents said grilling is a form of entertainment, while a third said it’s simply convenient.

grill quoteBeyond holidays, 49 percent of grill or smoker owners report barbecuing for birthday parties, 24 percent on a camping trip, 21 percent at a vacation home party and 11 percent during tailgating activities for sporting events. And they like to grill a variety of items, often at the same time.

The Feed4Thought survey results have 72 percent of Americans saying they grill on a regular basis, with 41 percent grilling at least once a week. Their favorite grilling options: steak leads at 42 percent, followed by hamburgers (25 percent), chicken (25 percent) and pork chops/ribs (12 percent). Plant-based products are slowly making their way onto outdoor flames.

Foods to Focus On

Smithfield Seasoned is now more than pork. Smithfield is expanding its portfolio with grill-ready fresh steak products. Sold in refrigerated 14-oz packages containing two USDA Choice Beef steaks, these quality cuts are perfectly seasoned for a hassle-free grilling experience. The initial offerings are Carne Asada and Steakhouse Seasoned. The beef joins an extensive line of seasoned and marinated pork chops, filets, loins and spareribs.

Mighty Spark Food Co. is on a quest to disrupt the refrigerated and frozen meat cases with the debut of nearly 50 items made from beef, chicken, pork or turkey. Hand-crafted and made in small-batches, innovative offerings include Queso Fresco & Jalapeño Turkey Patties and Waffle & Maple Chicken Breakfast Links. There’s Prosciutto Loaded Italian Sausage, and Sirloin, Brisket & Short Rib Beef Patties. The brand further sets itself apart in the crowded meat category with its signature square box with premium touches like a silver foil logo and soft-touch packaging.

The Kellogg Co., grows its veggie burger brand MorningStar Farms with grillable vegan options. The Veggie Lovers variety contains 10 vegetables, grains and seeds, including onions, carrots and mushrooms, for a variety of grilled plant flavor with each bite. The Meat Lovers offering infuses juicy plant protein with flame-grilled flavor to deliver an eating experience that tastes just like meat. Both burgers feature 27g of protein, the most of any MorningStar Farms burger yet. The 4-oz. burgers are sold frozen in boxes of eight.

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