With the launch of its Compleats Breakfast convenience meals, Hormel Foods is the first US producer to put shelf-stable egg dishes on retail shelves.
While other packaged food producers have introduced frozen shelf-stable microwaveable dishes, or shelf-stable meals with egg substitute, none have produced real eggs in shelf-stable products.
Jason Baskin, senior product manager for microwave meals at Hormel Foods, told FoodProductionDaily the birth of the processing technology facilitating shelf-stable egg products came after a lengthy, intensive development period.
“The specific technology used to produce shelf-stable eggs was developed over a period of five years and helps dramatically shorten the cooking time necessary to produce great-tasting egg items,” he said. “Hormel Compleats Breakfast is actually the first microwavable meal with shelf-stable eggs on the market."
"The reason consumers haven’t seen it before is because we’ve developed technology allowing us to deliver a product with the fresh taste of home cooking and the convenience of a 60-second prep time,” he added.
The product is produced via a proprietary retort process, housed in the same PET trays used for the other entrees in the line. Baskin said the method combines emerging technology with old-fashioned methods to extend shelf life.
“Retorts are essentially a commercial size pressure cooker that ‘cans’ the product using the same basic principles that home canners have been using for generations,” he explained. “Retorting pressurizes and then seals a product to extend shelf-life and maintain freshness and flavor.”
The breakfast additions to the Compleats line is intended to meet the needs of consumers, hungry for protein and starved for time, looking for a morning meal they can prepare quickly at home or the office.
“We saw a void in the marketplace for hot, hearty, and convenient breakfast meals,” Baskin told FPD. “The Compleats line already offers consumers great lunch and dinner options, so breakfast is a natural next step.”
While the product has just been hatched, Baskin said response from consumers that have seen and tried the Compleats breakfast meals has been favorable.