Family-owned Chicago-area grocer Sunset Foods has introduced its own line of chef-prepared meal solutions under the Quick and Easy brand.
Eden Prairie, Minn.-based retailer-wholesaler Supervalu launched the line last November for its own banners and the independent grocers it serves, describing the three types of offerings as:
- Ready to Enjoy: Including hot-and-ready foods in the store deli and a wide variety of freshly made sandwiches, salads, and cut fruits and vegetables.
- Heat & Eat: A selection of convenient entrées.
- Prepare at Home: Includes chef-inspired meal kits along with pre-seasoned, pre-portioned meats with or without vegetables. The kits can be prepared at home in under 15 minutes.
Sunset Foods' solutions are made under the guidance of Sunset Deli Department Director Chuck Gullo, and comprise such fish-, meat- and vegetable-based favorites as Cod Provencal, Garlic and Herb Chicken, and Mediterranean Vegetables. All are made using unique recipes and from simple, fresh ingredients.
“We have been in the prepared-meals business long before it became trendy,” noted Sunset VP of Marketing Thaddeus Tazioli. “Our kitchens are busier than most restaurants, and we have 10-15 cooks per store who prepare at least 75 to 100 unique dishes from scratch every day.”
While preparing restaurant-quality meals is something Sunset was already doing, the breakthrough was the packaging technology, which allows the meals to be cooked in minutes.
All five of Sunset’s stores, which are located in Chicago’s northern suburbs, currently offer Quick & Easy solutions: Lake Forest, Libertyville, Highland Park, Northbrook and Long Grove.
“We want to take something that’s great-quality, but also super-simple,” said Gullo. “The food looks beautiful, and because the packaging allows you to see it before you buy it, it’s been an immediate success. Preparation is deceptively simple, and one might be tempted to think there must be a sacrifice someplace, but this isn’t the case.”
Highland Park, Ill.-based Sunset Foods operates five locations and employs nearly 700 associates.