Slideshow: Del Monte innovation takes ‘big bets’ on pandemic trends

Slideshow: Del Monte innovation takes ‘big bets’ on pandemic trends

SAN FRANCISCO — Del Monte Foods, Inc. has unveiled a collection of innovation to capitalize on the trends the company has seen accelerate over the last year. Del Monte is “taking big bets” on connecting with younger generations, plant-based frozen, purposeful snacking and empowering home cooks, said Mario DiFalco, vice president of innovation and insights for Del Monte Foods.

“The past year has influenced a number of consumer trends that we expect to continue well beyond the pandemic,” Mr. DiFalco said. “We’ve seen that consumers have become even more focused on health and wellness, grown more confident preparing meals at home, adapted to remote work, increased their appetite for convenience buying and continued to prioritize buying from brands they trust. We believe that these trends are here to stay and will have a lasting mark on consumer eating behaviors, which is why we’re launching a suite of new product lines — across the entire store, and for all eating occasions throughout the day — that make it easy and affordable for people to eat healthy (and incorporate more fruits and veggies into their lives) even as many consumers’ lives get busier.”

Del Monte’s journey to connecting with younger generations has included the August 2019 introduction of its Bubble Fruit line, which combines traditional fruit cups with popping boba. Now building on that momentum, Del Monte is launching Joyba Bubble Tea, a line of boba shop-inspired beverages made with brewed tea infused with fruit flavors and popping boba designed for retail.

“Over the past several years, we’ve been aggressively innovating and transforming our business,” Mr. DiFalco said. “We’re no longer the canned food company of our grandparents’ generation. Through our Del Monte Bubble Fruit line, we’ve created an approximately $20 million product line in less than two years predominantly with Gen Z consumers. Now, we’re going a big step further with the release of Del Monte Foods’ first beverage brand — Joyba Bubble Tea — that is the first of its kind in the beverage category.”

“We’re no longer the canned food company of our grandparents’ generation.” — Mario DiFalco, Del Monte Foods

The development of Joyba came from a desire to “create something new, exciting and ownable for our company,” Mr. DiFalco said. Del Monte homed in on existing boba drinkers to formulate the ideal product.

“We did all of the ideation and concepting, tested brand names and different options for bringing it all to life, and landed on Joyba,” Mr. DiFalco said. “We specifically had to do exploratory work with boba fans in order to understand the immersive Boba experience, which is equal parts functional (taste and texture) and emotional (adventurous and social). The brand values were then inspired by those consumers and what they love about a boba moment. The consumer insights team led the charge in developing our manifesto, what Joyba is all about (and not about), who we appeal to most, what we stand for, and what we seek to do as a brand.”

Joyba Bubble Tea will be available in select stores in August for $2.99 per individual cup or $9.99 for a pack of four.

Del Monte is doubling down on plant-based frozen foods by expanding its Veggieful brand with a new line of Veggieful Riced Veggies. The ready-to-heat riced vegetable medleys come with complementary grains, legumes and additional vegetables.

“As consumers strive to find options that are both healthy and convenient, frozen offers tremendous opportunity,” Mr. DiFalco said. “In the past two years, we’ve doubled our frozen offerings with the launch and recent expansion of our Veggieful product line, which includes plant-based pockets with a crust made with cauliflower, and now our new Veggieful Riced Veggie products. Our entire Veggieful line is plant-based.”

Del Monte Veggieful Riced Veggies will be available nationwide in July for a suggested retail price of $3.19 per 10-oz pouch.

“As consumers aspire to lead healthier lifestyles, it’s not just meals they’re looking to make healthier, but snacks, too.” — Mario DiFalco, Del Monte Foods

Del Monte’s focus on purposeful snacking led to the creation of Fruit Infusions fruit cups with added antioxidants and other functional ingredients.

“As consumers aspire to lead healthier lifestyles, it’s not just meals they’re looking to make healthier, but snacks, too,” Mr. DiFalco said. “This is why we’re excited to launch our new Del Monte Fruit Infusions line, which are fruit cups infused with functional ingredients like turmeric and prebiotics. Already, all of our retailers have snatched up the product.”

Del Monte Fruit Infusions will be available nationwide in June for $1.69 per pack of six.

To empower home cooks, Del Monte is introducing Contadina San Marzano tomatoes and Del Monte Deluxe Gold Pineapple. The premium produce is geared toward cooking and baking applications.

“If one thing is certain, the pandemic led many Americans to stock up their pantries and prepare more meals at home,” Mr. DiFalco said. “Even as the economy opens back up, we anticipate this trend to stick around for quite some time. So much so, that we are preparing for our biggest production season in decades. We’re releasing new products — like our new Contadina San Marzano tomatoes and Del Monte Deluxe Gold Pineapple — that are helping consumers re-embrace home cooking.”

Contadina San Marzano Style Tomatoes are available nationwide in a whole variety, and a sliced variety will hit shelves nationwide in August. The tomatoes come in 28-oz cans for a suggested retail price of $3.49.

Del Monte Deluxe Gold Pineapple chunks, slices and tidbits are available nationwide in 20-oz cans for a suggested retail price of $1.99.

Joyba Bubble Tea, Veggieful Riced Veggies, Del Monte Fruit Infusions, Contadina San Marzano tomatoes and Del Monte Deluxe Gold Pineapple will be rolling out this summer. But Del Monte isn’t done innovating yet, Mr. DiFalco said.

“Historically, most of our products were used as sides or ingredients for dinner or lunch,” he said. “With our new innovation, we’re thrilled to be extending this focus to all areas of the grocery store, to all eating occasions throughout the day, and to all consumers — and at the same value that consumers depend on. As we look ahead to the next few years, you can expect us to continue aggressively innovating to offer even more healthy and delicious ways for consumers to increase their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.”

View slideshow of Del Monte Foods innovation.