Tastee Choice showcasing new Italian seafood meals at SENA Reconnect

Published on
March 10, 2021

Tastee Choice is showcasing its new line of high-end frozen Italian dinners at Seafood Expo North America Reconnect, running from 15 to 19 March.

The four new products – Risotto Di Mare, Penne All’Arrabbiata, Gnocchi Al Salmone, and Linguine Del Pescatore – were all produced through a partnership with an Italian company, with recipes created by Italian chef Alessandro Dentone. Initially intended to target the European market, Tastee Choice Vice President of Marketing Moe Cheramie told SeafoodSource that the products are now going to debut on U.S. soil.

“We started communicating with an Italian company about a year ago to produce four high-end, high-quality seafood meals for the European market,” he said. “In our conversations, we said ‘why don’t we bring those to the U.S., and select high-end retailers?’”

The products, Cheramie said, are intended to target consumers looking for a higher-end frozen meal that offers great flavor and is meant to compete with other items in the category from brands like Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s. Made in Italy, the four new products all weigh in at 21.1 ounces, and according to Cheramie are being offered around the USD 7.99 (EUR 6.70) price point.

“We felt that if we provide a really great quality made-in-Italy Italian meal, and we can sell it around USD 7.99 at retail, that consumers would be apt to buy it,” he said.

Like all frozen retail seafood, the new product line was partially influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused retail seafood sales to notch records in 2020. The combination of the new Italian products’ high quality and price point, in addition to its flavors, is part of why Tastee Choice anticipates the product will be a success.

“The consumer, with the pandemic especially, the consumer has been shopping the category big-time. They’re looking for quality, but they’re also looking for a price point,” Cheramie said. “There’s a high-end consumer [and] there’s a high-end retailer that’s looking for better quality than what’s on the shelf.”

The products each contain a different combination of seafood mated to either pasta, gnocchi, or risotto, and a sauce. All four of the offerings were the result of a partnership between Tastee Choice and an Italian specialty foods manufacturer.

The Risotto Di Mare features arborio rice, seafood sauce, shrimp and mussels; the Penne Arrabbiata features penne pasta in an arrabbiata sauce with garlic, shrimp, mussels, and clams; the Gnocchi Salmone comes with gnocchi in a salmon cream sauce with salmon cubes; and the Linguine Pescatore comes with linguine pasta in a seafood sauce with garlic and cod fish cubes.

Each dish has a quick cook time, and is designed to be cooked from frozen in a skillet in 10 minutes or less, depending on the stove.

The aim, Cheramie said, is to get consumers who might shy away from seafood on board by offering tastes and flavors geared for the American palate and made to high-quality Italian standards.

“These items offer the consumer different types of seafood that they might not have tried, but they’ll give it a shot because it comes from Italy,” Cheramie said. “Our partners felt that these were the four most-popular cuisines for the category, that people might not know the Italian names for them, but they know the product.”

The products are undergoing an initial launch across the U.S. East Coast primarily targeting markets with higher-end retailers. Cheramie said that the company plans to start small to be sure it can meet demand, and that the initial four-product offering is designed to fit on a 30-inch shelf space.

“We’re not bringing massive containers of this product," he said. "We’re starting and gradually building the business."

So far, sampling of the product at outlets of selected retailers has gone well, Cheramie said, resulting in most of the initial products being pre-sold to retailers.

“From the samples that we’ve sent out, we’ve been able to pre-sell,” he said. “We received our first container today, the first two containers have been pre-sold, and we have a third container arriving the second week of April.”  

Photos courtesy of Tastee Choice

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