Meat+Poultry - August 2020 - 31

Photos: Hormel Foods

I

n 2006, Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods
wanted to offer consumers a deli meat
that was safer, had an extended shelf life
and featured the "natural" label so many
customers were searching for with their
meat and poultry products. After developing
products fi lling those criteria, Hormel
launched its Natural Choice lunch meat line to
retail and wholesale in 2007.
The line debuted with oven roasted turkey
and honey ham varieties - still available
today. Today, the premium line also includes
roast beef, deli chicken breast and salami. All
meats contain no preservatives, no nitrites or
nitrates and no artificial ingredients, which
appealed at the time to the growing demand
for products with fewer added ingredients.
The deli meat line also offered an
additional peace of mind - the products were
processed using high-pressure processing
(HPP). After packaging, the products
underwent the cold pasteurization technique
where products were put into large vessels
and subjected to a high level of pressure
(up to 87,000 psi - pounds per square inch).
The process helps eliminates pathogens,
extends shelf life and allows products to
carry clean ingredient labels and no additives
are required.
"The Natural Choice line came from our
company's desire to always keep safety fi rst,"
said Samantha Hovland, brand manager for
Natural Choice. "At the time, deli was a focus
business for our organization, and when we
developed Natural Choice we decided to make
our deli meats even more safe, to eliminate
our company's possibility of having issues
with Listeria and things of that nature. We
made a decision at that time - which was
ahead its time - to invest in HPP technology
to make our food safer.
"Natural Choice lunch meat was the
fi rst natural lunch meat launched into the
marketplace at retail utilizing HPP - so we
defi nitely hang our hat on that. We were the
fi rst and No. 1 premium lunch meat to use that
technology - and we still do today."
While the company shares the advantages
of using HPP technology with its retail
customers, the benefits aren't readily
communicated with consumers.
"We are able to talk to our retailer partners
and make them understand the advantages of

HPP from a food safety and shelf
life perspective," Hovland said.
"However, consumers don't really
understand the process as much,
so we haven't really emphasized
those advantages to them.
There's a lot of science behind it.
"The way we process
our meats - using HPP - is
defi nitely something we're
very proud of. It is such a safe
way to process, and there are
so many clean label benefits,
too. We don't have to use
additives and preservatives to get
the extended shelf life in our lunch
meat. And we don't have to add
vinegars and other additives that
other brands use, so we have a
really nice clean flavor.
"HPP is something we see
as a differentiator for our
brand but not something
that we really focus on
communicating from a
consumer standpoint - yet."

GROWING THE LINE
The Natural Choice line is processed
at Hormel's Osceola Foods LLC plant
in Osceola, Iowa, just north of the
Missouri border. Hormel purchased
the facility in 1995. Today, the plant
spans more than 360,000 square feet
and employs more than 900 people. All Natural
Choice products and Hormel's Gatherings
party trays are produced at the facility.
In addition to the original turkey and
ham products under the Natural Choice
label, Hormel has also introduced bacon,
pepperoni, quarter and half hams and
Stacks, Snacks and Wraps. The Stacks are
to-go snacks consisting of crackers, lunch
meat and cheese varieties including Honey
Ham and Cheddar; Uncured Pepperoni and
Cheddar; Turkey and Cheddar; and Uncured
Salami and Cheddar.
The Snacks products contain meat and
cheese and an additional snack - chocolate
covered pretzels, chocolate covered almonds,
pita chips or fl ax seed corn chips. The
fl avors include Turkey and Cheddar; Chicken
and Cheddar; Ham and Cheddar; Chipotle

"Natural
Choice lunch
meat was the
first natural
lunch meat
launched
into the
marketplace
at retail
utilizing HPP."
- SAMANTHA HOVLAND

www.meatpoultry.com | 08.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

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Meat+Poultry - August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - August 2020

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