Rebekah Schouten headshotKANSAS CITY — From plant-based burgers to bite-size omelets, Tyson Foods, Inc. has had an eventful year of innovation. The company grinded out dozens of new products in 2021, doubling down on breakfast offerings, bite-size snacks and plant-based products. But Tyson’s most recent innovation propels the company into an entirely new segment: children’s snacking.

New Hillshire Farm SNACKED! refrigerated snack packs contain three bite-size components that pair Hillshire Farm meats with cheeses and a treat. The snacks provide 8 to 10 grams of protein each.

The idea for the new line stemmed from Tyson’s experience in the snacking segment paired with consumer insights from parents seeking better snacks for their children, said Michael Fanelli, director of marketing at Tyson Foods.

“When it comes to purchasing snacks for their kids, parents look for high-quality, ease of preparation and use, and taste as key elements,” Mr. Fanelli said. “We saw a clear opportunity and were able, as a protein and snacking leader, to use our learnings and consumer insights from the success of our snacking portfolio to deliver Hillshire Farm SNACKED!, which provides all three of these elements in one portable, high-quality, kid-focused snack pack.”

Hillshire Farm SNACKED! is available in four varieties: Pepperoni with Confetti Cake Bites and Mini String Cheese, Pepperoni with Brownie Bites and Monterey Jack Cheese, Salami with Mini Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods and Monterey Jack Cheese, and Turkey with Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cheddar Cheese. The combinations were inspired by favorite flavors mentioned by children in focus groups, Mr. Fanelli said.

We are constantly transforming and listening to consumers on what they expect from food companies today.” — Michael Fanelli, Tyson Foods

“Consumer insights are central to all innovations,” he said. “We are constantly listening to consumers and looking for opportunities to bridge our expertise and capabilities with what consumers need. In the instance of the Hillshire Farm SNACKED! innovation, we had a strong insight on the product need and benefit and used focus groups of both caregivers and kids to refine the product offerings.  For example, we uncovered flavors that kids really craved — like pepperoni for the protein and confetti cake for the treat — and made sure we incorporated those into our final product line.”

The launch of Hillshire Farm SNACKED! plays into Tyson’s innovation strategy in the snack category.

“Snacking moments continue to rise in popularity with the pandemic further accelerating this behavior,” Mr. Fanelli said. “In fact, the majority of people (76%) are moving away from the traditional three meals a day to incorporate two or more snacks into their diets every day.

“The launch of our new Hillshire Farm SNACKED! products underscores the company’s intent to grow its branded product leadership and excitement about the snacking category. Snacking options have seen a rise in popularity across the US as preferences have evolved in recent years and have further accelerated during the pandemic. Our new product expansion is an important part of our growth strategy as we continue to listen to our consumers and build our business with a focus on delivering quality products from brands that consumers trust.”

While the company has been churning out new products for the past nine months, Tyson still has more innovation on the way, Mr. Fanell said.

“We are constantly transforming and listening to consumers on what they expect from food companies today,” he said. “While we cannot disclose details of what exactly is in our pipeline, we are using our size, scale and agility to quickly deliver new products that address consumer needs and challenge the industry status quo.”

View slideshow of new products from Tyson Foods.