Marie Callender's Delights with Modern Comfort Food Twist

The Marie Callender's range of frozen entrees, side dishes and desserts marketed by Chicago, Illinois-headquartered Conagra Brands, Inc., has been extended with the introduction of Delights dinners. Presented as a “contemporary take on classic comfort foods,” they are now available at grocery stores across the USA for the suggested retail price of $3.69.

"New Delights dinners deliver a flavorful twist on comfort food favorites, featuring smart ingredient swaps like lean turkey for beef to meet evolving consumer preferences," said Casey Richards, Marie Callender's brand manager.

Describing Delights as “comfort food with a conscious,” Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Conagra Brands, remarked: “What we do here is smart swaps. We’ll take a turkey meatball instead of a beef meatball. We take sweet potato fries instead of mashed potato and gravy. Still very comforting, but it gives access to those consumers with particular constraints.”

Available in six varieties, the meals are prepared with lean proteins, more contemporary and colorful vegetables and sauces, and contain no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. Here’s the lineup:

  • roasted turkey and sweet 300Roasted Turkey & Sweet Potato Stuffing: Lean turkey breast tenderloin and sweet potato and cranberry stuffing paired with a chardonnay wine sauce.
  • Baked Turkey Meatballs in a Crushed Tomato Basil Sauce: Meatballs made with lean turkey and pasta in a crushed tomato and basil sauce.
  • Baked Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce: A savory combination of seasoned leafy greens, roasted potatoes, and a baked turkey meatloaf smothered in roasted red pepper tomato sauce.
  • baked country chicken with 300Baked Country Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes and leafy greens with baked white meat chicken. Topped with white wine caramelized onion sauce, it's a good source of protein.
  • Panko Herb Crusted Chicken with a Multi-grain Medley: A combination of panko and herb breaded chicken and vegetables with rice and quinoa.
  • Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Harvest Vegetables: Brussels sprouts and baked white meat chicken in a balsamic glaze.

About Conagra Brands

Conagra CB Texture LogoConagra is ranked as one of North America's leading value-added food companies. Among its frozen brands, in addition to Marie Callender's, are Healthy Choice, Banquet, Kid Cuisine, Alexia, Blake's, P.F. Chang’s Home Menu and Frontera bowl and skillet Mexican cuisine offerings. The portfolio rang up approximately $2.9 billion in sales last year.

Addressing the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in Boston on September 5, CEO Connolly said that the company is well on the way to transforming the Banquet brand from budget-based staples toward a product line that will appeal more to younger consumers with offerings such as Buffalo-style Chicken Mac ’Cheese Bowls.

“A millennial does not know what a Salisbury Steak is,” he commented. “We’re rightsizing Banquet, and we’re infusing growth into premium and mainstream with Healthy Choice, Marie Callender’s and the like. You can see in the last few years, we’ve done this; you can see the shift here, while adding almost 400 basis point in gross margin. So terrific performance, you should expect more of that.”

Connolly pointed out that sales of Conagra frozen single-serve meals in the last 13 weeks advanced 4.8%, while sales during the past five weeks rose 7.8%. That’s in stark contrast when compared with a 2.5% fall in sales over the past year, as measured by Information Resources, Inc.

“This is what happens when you take iconic brands and you incorporate modern food attributes,” Connolly concluded.