July 4 marked the one-year anniversary of Saffron Road, a natural foods brand of frozen meals that comply with halal Muslim dietary guidelines. I interviewed Jack Acree, executive vice president of American Halal Co., about the product and the industry’s health trend.
What was the inspiration for Saffron Road?
We saw that there were a couple of voids to fill in the marketplace, namely for a premium, all-natural halal line that would appeal to mainstream America. Saffron Road is also the only nationally available line of frozen entrees that uses protein that is Certified Humane and raised without antibiotics.
How has your product fared in its first year? To what do you attribute its performance?
It has been far beyond our expectations. Saffron Road has been accepted by Whole Foods Market nationally and also by more traditional supermarkets like Wegman’s and Harris Teeter. Then, when consumers get a chance to try Saffron Road products they want more. Saffron Road promises quite a lot with its premium packaging and attributes, and it delivers on all of those promises.
What is the demographic of your average consumer? How have you appealed to non-Muslims who may know little about halal guidelines?
Our demographic closely matches that of the normal natural foods consumer, or in other words, those people who care about what they put in their body. This is a consumer that is willing to pay a premium for great-tasting food that is produced outside of the factory farming system. Non-Muslims already make up a large majority of Saffron Road’s consumers. Halal is the foundation that allows us to build all of the attributes of Saffron Road on top, such as, Certified Humane, raised without antibiotics, and most importantly, great flavor. Our packaging is designed in a way to reach all consumers who are looking for a product like Saffron Road.
How have consumers responded to the natural, antibiotic-free preparation of the food?
They are the key attributes that attract our non-Muslim consumers, and they also resonate very strongly with the Muslim consumer. The fact that 10 of our 12 frozen items are now Certified Gluten-Free has been very well-received too.
Is there growing interest in a natural approach in the frozen food industry as a whole as there has been in other food sectors?
Yes, on a daily basis more people are paying attention to what they put in their bodies.
Saffron Road recently introduced eight new frozen meals. What goes into brainstorming and developing new meals?
We talk to Saffron Road’s consumers directly and through social media to find out what they are looking for. We also work with our retail partners to see where they see gaps in their offerings.